Beginning September, 2020, police services in the GTA began investigating an increase in test drive thefts occurring at local dealerships. The suspects in these thefts used fraudulent identities and in many cases took advantage of current COVID-19 precautions to secure unescorted test drives and steal vehicles. In some cases, when the test drive was escorted by a sales representative, a staged collision was orchestrated in order to complete the theft. During this time primarily Mercedes products were targeted.
Members of the Halton Regional Police (HRPS) Oakville Criminal Investigations Bureau in collaboration with the Peel Regional Police and Hamilton Police Service began to investigate these incidents. The investigation was further supported by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC).
On November 28, 2020, members of Peel Regional Police arrested two suspects in possession of a recently stolen vehicle. Subsequent search warrants were executed by members of the HRPS Oakville Criminal Investigation Bureau at two Brampton residences and on one vehicle. Investigators seized a second vehicle (stolen from an Oakville dealership), approximately 450 grams of fentanyl, 45 grams of crack cocaine, a quantity of suspected Xanax tablets and approximately $10,000 (see attached photo).
Azad Sandhu (18) of Brampton has been charged with:
Theft of motor vehicle (3 counts)
Possession of a counterfeit mark (false identity documents)
Steven Singh (20) of Mississauga has been charged with:
Theft of motor vehicle (8 counts)
Utter forged documents (8 counts)
Possession of counterfeit mark (false identity documents)
Possession for the purpose of trafficking (3 counts- Fentanyl, Xanax, Cocaine)
Both Sandhu and Singh were held in custody pending a bail hearing.
The theft of motor vehicle and related charges are in connection with incidents that occurred in Halton, Peel, Hamilton, and South Simcoe.
Prior to these arrests, HRPS investigators also executed a warrant at a residence in Toronto. This took place in October, 2020. Multiple items were seized at that time including:
A Mercedes vehicle stolen from Hamilton
Stolen Ontario dealer plates
Fraudulent Ontario and Quebec Driver’s Licences
As a result of that earlier investigation, Yassine Jenkal (23) of Toronto was arrested and charged with the following:
Possession of Property Obtained by Crime (over $5000)
Possession of Property Obtained by Crime (under $5000) (2 Counts)
Tampering with Vehicle Identification Number
Possession of a Counterfeit Mark (4 counts)
Anyone with information in regards to these investigations is asked to contact Detective Omar Nadim of the 2 District Criminal Investigations Bureau 905-825-4747 ext. 2306.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.
What You Can Do
Despite these arrests, we are actively encouraging dealerships to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity in/around their facilities to police. If you witness a crime in progress, or if the above-referenced suspect attends your dealership, you are asked to call 911.
There are precautionary measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of having a vehicle taken for a test drive and not returned to your lot:
If an individual provides you with a contact phone number, call it before they leave the lot to verify that it is valid;
If an individual requests a test drive, charge a security deposit to their credit card before they leave the lot; and
Consider asking for suitable collateral before handing over vehicle keys to a patron.
Be aware of someone who arrives on foot or is dropped off for a test drive, with no other means of leaving.