WRPS make eight arrests, lay 92 charges relating to vehicle thefts

The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) have announced results from a major six-month investigation in relation to vehicle thefts.

At a news conference at WRPS Headquarters Friday, Deputy Chief Jen Davis said that eight males between the ages of 17 and 26 have been arrested and 92 charges have been laid. Those arrested include two 19-year-olds from Cambridge, and a pair of 17-year-olds from Guelph. Police did confirm, however, that the suspects are out on bail.

Between June 1 and November 23, there were 84 reports of stolen vehicles and attempted thefts across the region.

45 vehicles believed to be worth about $3.1 million were recovered, along with a large quantity of Canadian currency and numerous blank keys. Many vehicles were recovered at ports in Montreal. Police believe the vehicles were being shipped overseas for criminal resale.

Stolen vehicle in a shipping container. / WRPS
Several blank key fobs were recovered. / WRPS

Davis said WRPS believe that the males were a part of a larger organized crime group, who targeted newer model high-end SUVs and pickup trucks using reprogramming technology.

“Reprogramming occurs when suspects can either gain entry or force entry into a vehicle,” said Davis. “They use an electronic device to access the diagnostics or computer system of the vehicle. Suspects that reprogram a blank key fob are able to start the vehicle and drive it away while the keys still remain in the residence.”

Staff Sergeant Ian Kerr explained that the evolving technology used to steal vehicles provides a challenge for police.

“Essentially, what ends up happening, is we get a technology, they defeat the technology,” said Kerr. “We’re all working toward finding these solutions, but once that happens, they might move on to a new type of vehicle theft.”

Although this investigation had a good result, Davis said vehicle thefts are still on the rise.

“There are multiple groups that are doing this type of activity, so we haven’t solved the problem now.”

Davis reported that 2023 has seen roughly a 10 per cent increase in vehicle thefts compared to the five-year average.

Police remind the public that if there are suspicious people in your neighbourhood looking into vehicles, call 9-1-1 immediately.

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