Italian Police found 251 vehicles stolen in Canada and bound for Middle East

TORONTO – A joint Italian Police – Canadian RCMP – Interpol operation has made it possible to trace two hundred and fifty-one cars, with an estimated value of 22 million euros, stolen in Canada and “stored” inside various containers in transit in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro, in the province of Reggio Calabria. 

The vehicles – cars and SUVs to be “placed” on the North African and Middle Eastern markets – were found by agents of the State Police (Polizia di Stato), the Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) and the Monopolies Agency (Agenzia dei Monopoli / ADM), in collaboration with the of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Canadian Embassy in Italy.

With the help of Interpol, as part of investigations coordinated by the Palmi (Reggio Calabria) Prosecutor’s Office, starting from last September the Italian Police forces have analyzed the commercial transit and transport documents of 483 containers, loaded on 18 separate cargo ships. Then, the discovery. The cars had all been stolen in recent months in Canada, all of prestigious brands and all expensive and almost new: Mercedes, Porsche, Chrysler, Audi worth 150-200 thousand euros. In Italy, a place of transit, the vehicles already arrived with counterfeit identification data, often almost perfectly. From Canadian ports, the vehicles left for All Khoms (Libya), Casablanca (Morocco), Mersin (Turkey) and Jebel Ali (United Arab Emirates). All without particular problems, given that in those countries there is no legislation to regularize the entry of foreign cars, even without appropriate documentation.

In practice, the vehicles were stolen in Canada and then resold at “extraordinary” prices in Africa and the Middle East, after having disguised the chassis data and after the intermediate stop in Gioia Tauro, Italy.

As part of the raid, 7,650 Canadian dollars were also seized, divided into banknotes of various denominations, found in a vehicle also stolen in Canadian territory.

Car theft is becoming a national emergency in Canada, where it is being discussed at all levels of government. By some estimates, car theft rates in Quebec increased by half in 2022 compared to the previous year, and police in the Toronto metropolitan area saw car thefts increase by almost 300 per cent from 2015 to 2023. Experts call for all levels of government to work with industry stakeholders to stem a phenomenon that is creating huge problems not only for victims of theft, but also for insurance companies forced to deal with a record number of thefts, never seen before.

In the pics, the “raid” by the Italian Police forces and some of the cars stolen in Canada and recovered in Italy (photo: Italian State Police – Guardia di Finanza – ADM)