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Toronto man surprised to learn his stolen SUV was found for sale online

A Toronto man was surprised to learn his SUV — stolen near the home where he was living almost a year ago — was recently sold in the United Arab Emirates.

CBC News found an online ad that included a picture of the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban LT’s vehicle identification number (VIN). Using the VIN, a reporter searched the Canadian Police Information Centre’s public database and confirmed the vehicle had been reported stolen.

“I considered the vehicle long gone,” the SUV’s owner said in an interview. CBC News agreed to identify the man only by his first name, Richard, because he fears being targeted again by auto thieves, often linked to organized crime.

“It still comes as quite a surprise when you see a picture of it and you find out it’s halfway around the world.”

Richard said he awoke one morning in June 2023 and noticed a theft alarm notification on his smartphone. He said it had appeared at roughly 4 a.m.

“I just assumed the car had been broken into,” he said. “I went out to have a look, and the car had vanished.”

A black SUV is seen parked on grey pavement.
A Chevrolet Suburban stolen from Toronto in June 2023 is seen on a used-car lot in Sharjah, U.A.E. (Dubizzle)

The incident resembled countless others in Canadian cities in recent years. A vehicle is stolen every 14 minutes in Ontario alone, the province estimated earlier this month.

Months after Richard’s SUV was taken, it wound up in a used car lot in Sharjah, a city roughly 30 kilometres northeast of Dubai. 

CBC News previously reported on another Toronto man who used locating devices to track his SUV to a separate used-car lot in the UAE.

Vehicles stolen from Ontario and Quebec are frequently shipped to the Middle East and West Africa through the Port of Montreal. It’s not clear whether Richard’s Suburban was exported using the same route.

Toronto police did not respond when CBC News requested an interview on this subject.

WATCH | A look at how so many stolen cars end up in Ghana: 

Why so many stolen cars end up in Ghana

9 months ago

Duration 15:39

A CBC News investigation tracks stolen vehicles to dealerships in Ghana and breaks down why thefts are on the rise and what can be done — by officials and drivers — to keep Canadian cars from ending up overseas.

The Sharjah dealership listed the vehicle for about $57,800 Cdn, with a mileage of 43,000 kilometres. Online records show it was sold by May 6.

“Somebody got a pretty good deal on it,” Richard said. He noted that after it was stolen, it was assessed to be worth $80,000.

Mohamed Kashmoola Used Cars, the dealership that listed the vehicle, did not respond to questions sent to an email address posted on its website. The person who answered the phone at the dealership declined to say how the business had obtained the Suburban.

A black sign with the words "Mohamed Kashmoola Used Cars" in bold letters.
Mohamed Kashmoola Used Cars in Sharjah, U.A.E., did not respond to questions emailed by CBC News. (Mohamed Kashmoola Cars/Facebook)

The vehicle appeared on at least two third-party classified ad sites: DubiCars and Dubizzle.

DubiCars told CBC News in a statement, “We are deeply concerned about the report of a stolen vehicle being sold through our platform.”

“It is challenging to verify every aspect of each vehicle’s history,” Anton Brovko, a representative for the website said in an email.

Dubizzle did not respond to a request for comment. 

WATCH | How AirTags helped track a stolen SUV: 

Toronto man uses AirTags to track stolen SUV to Dubai

4 months ago

Duration 7:12

When a Toronto man’s SUV was stolen from his driveway, he used AirTags to watch it travel across three continents before arriving in Dubai. CBC’s Thomas Daigle breaks down what happened and why the man couldn’t get the SUV back even though he knew where it was.

Canada “a key source country for stolen motor vehicles”

Figures released by Interpol on Wednesday shed new light on Canada’s auto theft crisis. 

The international law enforcement organization said more than 1,500 vehicles stolen in Canada have been identified by police forces around the world since the RCMP started sharing data with Interpol in February.

“In recent years, Canada has emerged as a key source country for stolen motor vehicles,” Interpol said in a statement, “in part given its large supply of sought-after high-value models such as SUVs and crossovers.”

“This is not a victimless crime,” Bryan Gast, vice-president of investigative services at Équité Association, told CBC News. Équité is an organization that works to prevent insurance fraud.

“This is organized crime. They’re funding their criminal operations” with auto theft, Gast said.

Richard said after the theft, he reported the incident to police and his insurance provider. He received an insurance payout and said he thought the episode was behind him.

“I’d like it never to happen to me again.”

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