Edmonton Police Service Auto Theft Unit made three arrests while recovering seven stolen vehicles. Authorities executed an arrest warrants at a house in the Hamptons area of the city on Sep. 27, 2018. A business was also searched around 121A Street and 121 Avenue, which turned up an operational vehicle cloning scheme.
Police secured a stolen and cloned 2008 Mercedes ML55 and a stolen 2008 BMW X6 at the business location. Edmonton Police also report the recovery of two stolen 2014 Range Rovers (one of them cloned), a stolen 2015 Jeep Cherokee, and two stolen and cloned 2016 Dodge Ram 1500s.
Auto Theft Unit members also found 269 grams of cocaine worth nearly $27,000, marijuana, and cash evidence related to the scheme. In a press release today, the IBC explains how vehicle cloning is an effective way for vehicle thieves to make money:
“Vehicle cloning, or VIN cloning, is using a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally registered vehicle to hide the identity of a stolen or salvaged vehicle, typically the same make, model and year. The thieves use the stolen VINs to create ownership documents to register or sell the stolen vehicle. The stolen vehicle becomes an identical clone of the legitimate vehicle, with no obvious signs it was stolen. In some cases, the thieves manufacture VIN labels and VIN plates and obtain vehicle registration using forged documents in an attempt to legitimize the stolen asset.”
Edmonton Police has issued 16 charges in the investigation and said the total recovered property is valued at around $400,000. The operation may have been running for some time and already moved on several vehicles.
“If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, it’s important to ask questions, especially when buying from a private seller,” says Det. Mark Kassian, with the EPS Auto Theft Unit. “Ask questions in relation to the vehicle’s owner history. Ask to see original documentation and service records. Lastly, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.”