Crime Stoppers revealed its top five most wanted list for auto theft in York Region.
During a news conference Monday, York Regional Police, Equite Association, and Crime Stoppers of York Region broke down statistics for 2023 and highlighted initiatives for the year.
Speaking to CP24 following the conference, Det. Sgt. Pat Smyth, with York Regional Police’s car theft unit, said around 5,000 cars were lost in the region last year – a significant jump from 2018’s average of 800 cars a year.
“That just tells you the current climate that we’re in [it’s] just increasing all the time,” Smyth said.
These are the five suspects most wanted in connection with auto theft investigations.
Mansor Abdul. (Crime Stoppers of York Region)
York Regional Police identified Mansor Abdul, 34, with a last known address in Brossard, Que., as the “mastermind” of a stolen vehicle trafficking ring during Project Majestic in 2023. An investigation found that stolen vehicles were shipped overseas, including the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.
Before the project finished, with YRP recovering 64 stolen vehicles valued at $3.5 million in the Republic of Malta, Crime Stoppers said Abdul fled for Kabul, Afghanistan to evade arrest and has not returned to Canada since.
Abu Ayi. (Crime Stoppers of York Region)
Through Project Victory in 2020, Abu Ayi, 44, with a last known address in Toronto, was identified as the alleged leader of a group targeting Honda and Toyota SUVs for overnight driveway thefts, according to Crime Stoppers. At the time, YRP recovered 70 stolen vehicles worth $4.5 million from across the GTA, and were able to link the crime ring to 32 stolen vehicles shipped to either Ghana or Nigeria.
Ayi was charged, but while awaiting trial, Crime Stoppers said he fled to Ghana with a fraudulent passport, prompting investigators to believe he will not return to Canada.
ALA MALAK MEKDAD
Ala Malak Mekdad. (Crime Stoppers of York Region)
Through Project Touchdown in 2022, where YRP arrested 51 people and recovered more than 215 stolen vehicles valued at around $17 million, investigators identified Ala Malak Mekdad, 23, of Montreal, Que., as the alleged leader of one of the crews targeting the GTA for overnight driveway thefts.
The stolen vehicles were shipped to various continents, like Africa and the Middle East, where investigators allege a majority of them were stolen through the reprogramming of key fobs called “relay theft.”
MODIBO BAMBA AND AMIEL TAMBWE KATENDE
Modibo Bamba (left), and Amiel Tambwe Katende (right). (Crime Stoppers of York Region)
The remaining two on the most wanted list are 21-year-olds, who were identified during Project Serpent. Modibo Bamba and Amiel Tambwe Katende were both allegedly involved in a large theft crew that targeted high-end vehicles in the GTA, which police say put the public at risk as they would allegedly operate stolen vehicles dangerously. They both fled to their native Montreal, but have yet to be found.
Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services at Equite Association, said Canada remains a “source nation” for stolen vehicles.
“Canada continues to be a source nation for stolen vehicles with organized crime, exporting stolen vehicles mostly through the Port of Montreal or reinventing for domestic resale and registering these vehicles across the country. Profit margins are high and are seen by criminals as the risk of prosecution is low,” Gast said.
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