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7 Lexus vehicles stolen in Metro Vancouver were going to be shipped overseas, police believe

Lexus RX350 2021. (Shutterstock) Lexus RX350 2021. (Shutterstock)
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Three people were arrested earlier this week in connection to the theft of several Lexus RX350 vehicles that investigators think were going to be shipped overseas.

Police said the three men, believed to be from Quebec, were arrested Tuesday and charged with theft over $5,000. The charge came after seven vehicles were stolen across the Lower Mainland.

Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team, New Westminster Police Department, Surrey RCMP, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, RCMP Air Services and the Lower Mainland police dog team all worked together in the investigation.

Three of the vehicles were found in a shipping container at a Surrey salvage yard, police said. Three more were found in a shipping container that was moved from the Surrey yard to a truck yard in New Westminster. The final vehicle was found parked on a Surrey road.

Police said they believe the vehicles were first going to be shipped to eastern Canada, then overseas. While they didn't say where they thought the cars would ultimately end up, investigators across the country have noticed a surge in car thefts, with criminal enterprises taking advantage of low-risk, high-profit opportunities to sell Canadian cars to markets in the Middle East and Africa. 

For example, a listing of a 2019 Lexus RX350 shows the vehicle sells for about $48,000 Canadian today. But in Nigeria, on a used car listing site, it’s going for the equivalent of $79,000.

Metro Vancouver Mounties said the three men, 21-year-old Yahya Zitouni, 18-year-old Mohamed Ayoub Bouterra and 27-year-old Samer Al Rifai, are all in custody and have a court appearance on Monday.

"These stolen vehicles are being returned to their rightful owners thanks to a regional effort to find those responsible and hold them accountable for their actions," said NWPD Insp. Trevor Dudar in a news release Thursday.

"Our message to car thieves is we’re watching, we’re sharing information, and it’s only a matter of time before you see the inside of a court room."

With files from CTV News Toronto's Jon Woodward 

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