Canadian authorities see similarities in cargo heists

Dec. 23, 2008
Recent case saw theft of eight trailers worth of consumer goods from GE facility

Police are investigating a possible link between a weekend heist in Brantford and a similar crime that happened last month in Puslinch.

Overnight Saturday, thieves entered the lot of GE Appliances in Brantford and made off with eight trailers loaded with appliances worth more than $300,000.

"It is clear that it was professionally done," Brantford Police Service Detective Jason Saunders said yesterday. "It is not a run-of-the-mill crime."

Saunders said he expects to speak with Wellington County OPP investigators to explore similarities with the Nov. 22 theft in Puslinch.

In that case, thieves stole more than $528,000 worth of vehicles and cargo from Load Solutions Inc. on Mason Road. Security footage showed at least eight men cutting through the fence of the company's lot, then rifling through trailers. Four trucks were stolen in addition to four trailers containing snow tires, boxed meat and liquor.

In Brantford, thieves cut barbed wire from the fence surrounding the lot, cut the lock off the gate, and brought multiple tractors into the lot to hook up to the trailers.

The president of a local trucking company says cargo theft is an epidemic in southern Ontario, and police resources aren't sufficient to curb theft.

"It's a victimless crime," Rick Way of Guelph's WayFreight Services Ltd. said, adding that means trucking companies have to take steps to protect themselves.

"Chances are that they will pick on you a lot less if you take a number of precautions."

Way said he learned that the hard way after his company had a tractor stolen and minor thefts from their trailers in the last several years.

Nearly eight years ago, one of Way's truck drivers had 800 pressure washers stolen while in transit from California to Toronto.

Way has since installed satellite-tracking in his trucks, anti-theft devices in the ignition and trailer-disabling devices.

This is in addition to fencing, lots of lighting, and video surveillance.

Way said several cargo thefts he's heard of seem carefully planned.

The magnitude of the Brantford theft means there has to be a buyer, Way said.

"No one steals eight truckloads of appliances unless they had somewhere to store them."

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