Toronto police have charged a teen boy and a man in connection with a carjacking and a home invasion in North York in December with the help of a new joint task force.
The violent incident happened in the area of Yonge Street and Florence Avenue, near Sheppard Avenue, on Dec. 21, police said in a news release on Friday. Officers were called to the home shortly before 4 a.m.
No one was injured, but a home was broken into and a vehicle stolen, police said.
The boy, 17, and man, 19, both of Toronto, have each been charged with: break and enter commit; robbery with an offensive weapon; disguise with intent; theft of a motor vehicle; and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. The boy was due to appear in court on Thursday, while the man was scheduled for a court appearance on Friday.
The charges come amid a growing number of auto thefts and carjackings in the Greater Toronto Area. That number has prompted local police services to form a provincial carjacking joint task force to co-ordinate efforts against auto crimes. Given the level of violence now involved in auto crimes, the robberies represent a “new and evolving” threat to public safety, police said.
“This collaborative approach aims to disrupt the networks responsible for violent and high-risk auto thefts and maximize enforcement efforts against criminal organizations,” police said in the release.
According to police, a total of 12,143 vehicles were stolen in Toronto in 2023. There were 282 carjackings and 112 home invasions in the city last year.
Led jointly by the Toronto police and Ontario Provincial Police, the task force is a “collaboration” among police services, including York Regional Police, Halton Regional Police Service, Durham Regional Police Service, Peel Regional Police, and other external agencies, including Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario (CISO).
Toronto police say the task force is funded by the participating police services and the CISO through provincial funding.
When a violent auto crime occurs in a particular jurisdiction, the task force is notified and investigates the crime collaboratively with the police service in that area, according to the Toronto police.
Suspects forced way into home, demanded keys
In the North York incident, police said five suspects approached a home and two of them forced their way inside through the back patio. Once inside, the suspects demanded a resident’s vehicle keys and threatened the person with a can of pepper spray. The suspects fled the scene in the person’s vehicle.
Police obtained video surveillance from the home along with images of the suspects. The teen and man were identified, arrested and charged. Three other suspects have not been identified and remain at large, according to Const. Shannon Eames, spokesperson for the Toronto police.
In this particular case, police said the task force, including officers from Toronto and York Region police’s hold-up units, helped with identifying and arresting the suspects.
Incidents of violence related to auto crimes happening in Ontario have increased over the last several years, Toronto police say on their website.
Police say thieves are stealing vehicles, then using those vehicles to carry out other crimes. They are also shipping them overseas, where they are resold. As well, thieves are altering vehicle identification numbers (VINs) and selling the vehicles domestically.
According to police, an auto theft involves an unattended vehicle that is stolen, while a carjacking involves a vehicle that is stolen with the owner in the vehicle or nearby the vehicle.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact police at 416-808-7350, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
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