Ontario police collaborate to bust Niagara-area chop shop

Police recover over 60 stolen chopped vehicles and 200 high-end vehicles that were stripped of their components.

A Niagara-on-the-Lake man is facing additional charges after police busted him on February 15 for running a large chop shop operation.

In June 2011, Niagara Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, and OPP executed search warrants on Auto Enterprise and its proprietor George Tsigirlash. At that time, Tsigirlash was arrested and faced four charges in relation to two identified renumbered stolen vehicles. Tsigirlash was released from custody on bail.

In the following months, Niagara Regional Police and Toronto Police Service spearheaded Project Enterprise, with the assistance of the OPP, Hamilton Police Service and York Regional Police Service, and conducted an extensive investigation into the vehicles and parts of vehicles recovered at Auto Enterprise.

As a result of the combined efforts, police recovered in excess of 60 stolen chopped vehicles and in excess of 200 high-end vehicles that had been surgically stripped of their components. The manner in which these vehicles were stripped of their identity illustrated the criminal knowledge and a high degree of sophistication, according to a media release.

Also as part of Project Enterprise, Toronto Police Service conducted an extensive investigation into fraudulent inspections and registrations, which enabled numerous stolen vehicles, as well as rebuilt vehicles with stolen parts to be sold to the public and registered in Ontario.

Tsigirlash is facing another 14 charges, including 10 counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000, 3 counts of fraud over $5,000 and 1 count of breach of recognizance. Five additional Toronto-area suspects have been arrested and a total 500 charges have been laid.

IBC responds

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has congratulated the Niagara Regional Police, Toronto Police Service, and OPP on its collaboration on Project Enterprise.

“The police continue to do great work to strike down these criminal networks,” said Rick Dubin, IBC’s vice president of investigative services. “Police will be working with IBC to identify insurers that have policies in place on these cars not knowing that the vehicles may well be stolen and or unsafe to be on the road. IBC will be working with law enforcement and insurers to locate and identify these vehicles to ensure the safety of the public.”

IBC’s investigative services works with insurers and law enforcement to bring to justice the criminals who defraud the system and threaten the safety of innocent drivers. Everyone has a responsibility to fight fraud: insurance companies, the government and individual consumers.

To help catch fraudsters, IBC encourages people with any information about insurance crime to call its anonymous TIPS line (1-877-IBC TIPS).

This article was originally published February 16 and updated February 21.

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