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Toronto car dealer warns others about man stealing high-end vehicles from GTA lots

TorontoToronto car dealer warns others about man stealing high-end vehicles from GTA lotsA Toronto car dealership is warning other dealers to take precautions after a brazen theft of a high-end vehicle at its west end location left a salesperson traumatized.

Take precautions, get a driver's licence, don't be fooled by professional clothes, dealer says

A still image from surveillance camera video of a high-end car theft at a Toronto dealership. The man standing in front of a white Mercedes Benz GLE in motion is a salesperson. He watches, shocked, as a man drives off the lot with the luxury vehicle, worth $46,000. (Supplied)

A Toronto car dealership is warning other dealers to take precautions after a brazen theft of a high-end vehicle at its west end location left a salesperson traumatized.

Daniel Hassan, whose family owns Yorkdale Fine Autos, said a number of thefts of luxury vehicles in the GTA over the course of a week at the end of summer may be the work of the same man. Car dealers should not be fooled by a professional looking appearance, he added.

"Have some rules and guidelines before you give the keys to customers regardless of who it is. Take their driver's licence, anything that can prevent things like this from happening," Hassan said on Tuesday.

On Aug. 28 at about 4 p.m., a man walked into Yorkdale Fine Cars in the area of Lawrence Avenue West and Dufferin Street, and asked to see a white Mercedes Benz GLE, worth about $46,000. A salesperson showed him the car, which was parked near the front of the dealership without license plates, and the man sat inside.

The salesperson had the key but the vehicle can be started even if the key is outside the car, Hassan said. In a flash, the man drove off, hitting another car as he gunned the vehicle out of the lot and down Dufferin Street.

The Toronto car dealership says the man asked to see a Mercedes GLE SUV, sat inside, then took off. 0:15

The man nearly hit a woman with a stroller. The salesperson went on stress leave recently.

'It was very shocking to the salesman'

"It was very shocking to the salesman," he said.

"I expect that this guy gets caught. I know this has happened to a few other dealers. It's not fair. I'm happy nobody got hurt over here. As long as we can find out who did this, that's all that matters."

Hassan said he doesn't blame the salesperson because such a theft could happen to anyone. The vehicle has not been found.

Toronto police confirmed in an email on Tuesday that they are investigating. They believe thieves may be shipping the stolen vehicles overseas.

The suspect is described as a black male, about 26 to 27 years of age, about five-foot-seven, with a skinny build and short brown hair. He was wearing a black hat, sunglasses, a white t-shirt, a black satchel over his shoulder, grey shorts and black shoes.

Daniel Hassan, of Yorkdale Fine Autos, says: 'Have some rules and guidelines before you give the keys to customers regardless of who it is. Take their driver's licence, anything that can prevent things like this from happening.' (CBC)

Later on Aug. 28, a man with a similar description walked into an Oakville dealership and drove off with a Mercedes Benz. And five days after that, on Sept. 3, a dealership in Vaughan was targeted, only this time the owner was seriously injured. A white Mercedes Benz GLS was stolen.

"I'm wondering why he doesn't get caught," Hassan said. "This guy, he doesn't give up."

Planning likely involved in vehicle theft, police say

York Regional Police say they are investigating a theft of a Mercedes Benz on Sept. 3 in the area of North Rivermede Road and Centre Street, near Highway 7, in which a male employee suffered non-life-threatening injuries while trying to stop the theft and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for York Regional Police, said the vehicle has not been recovered but the investigation is ongoing.

"During the theft of the vehicle, he had attempted to stop the vehicle from fleeing by getting in front of it and by jumping on the hood of it, but that vehicle did take off. And unfortunately, the victim in this case was injured," Pattenden said on Tuesday.

Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for York Regional Police, says: 'They'll have either a truck or a shipping container nearby, that vehicle is removed … and very quickly loaded into a container, sealed up and off it goes …' (CBC)

"We have investigated cases like this in the past, where high end vehicles are stolen, whether it be warm up theft, or theft from dealerships. Those vehicles are quickly loaded into containers and sent, for the most part, overseas," he said.

"While we always hope to find the vehicle, in a case like this, we may never recover that vehicle."

"Likely some planning is involved here," he said. "They'll have either a truck or a shipping container nearby, that vehicle is removed … and very quickly loaded into a container, sealed up and off it goes, never to be seen again."

Anyone with any information about these high end car thefts is urged to call police.

With files from Kelda Yuen

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