Paralympian who had medal stolen a victim of Montreal’s soaring car thefts

Quebec paralympic swimmer Aurelie Rivard has picked up a lot of medals in her career.

Perhaps her most prized one is the gold medal she won for the 400-metre swim in Rio de Janeiro, an intense midrange endurance course demanding a lifetime of practice to conquer as she did.

“There are hours of work and dedication and effort and sacrifices and choices — hard choices — and a lot of emotions,” she told CTV News in an interview.

But she says that proof of her hard work — the medal — was lost this weekend.

“It’s an epidemic,” said George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association.

Within a matter of days at the end of September, Montreal police (SPVM) arrested five youths, all under 19, for alleged vehicle thefts.

Iny says car thieves tend to be younger, each of them making around $1,500 per car.

He says thieves are targeting large luxury vehicles. Montreal police have also identified Dodge RAMs, as well as Jeep Rubicons and Wranglers, as coveted models. Many of those stolen cars are turning up at the Port of Montreal.

In April, 53 stolen vehicles (mostly luxury SUVs and pickups) worth $2.6 million were seized at the port. Just weeks before, 17 other vehicles (again, mostly high-end SUVs) were found there.

Iny says a significant portion of stolen vehicles in Quebec and Ontario pass through the port to be sent and sold abroad.

“The ports are porous,” he said. “They’re leaving the country for other markets.”

“It’s better for the thieves also because they don’t get stuck having to camouflage a vehicle and trying to resell it into the market in Canada,” he added.

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