Toronto Pearson International Airport heist

Toronto Pearson International Airport heist

Toronto Pearson International Airport Heist - April 2023

Toronto Pearson International Airport Heist - April 2023

On April 17, 2023, a grand theft occurred at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Canada, with over C$20 million (US$15 million) worth of gold and other high-value items being stolen.

In the evening of Monday, April 17, a container which contained the items was offloaded off an inbound aircraft according to normal procedures and transferred to an airport holding facility before it was "removed by illegal means", according to Peel Regional Police.

An anonymous source familiar with the investigation confirmed to CTV News Toronto that the container was offloaded off an Air Canada aircraft and was subsequently transferred to an Air Canada holding facility at Pearson Airport, but this has not been confirmed by Peel Regional Police. Six people have been arrested in April 2024 in relation to the robbery.

Investigation

On April 20, 2023, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed that Peel Regional Police is investigating the theft at the airport. The Greater Toronto Airport Authority said in a brief statement that it is an ongoing investigation and cannot provide additional comments. Peel Regional Police inspector Stephen Duivesteyn said their team is investigating "all avenues" and described the incident as "isolated" and "very rare". He also said that the container holding the valuables was 0.46 square metres (5 square feet) in size. Police were not able to confirm the final destination of the cargo nor if the theft was related to organized crime or professional thieves. They were also not sure if the items are still in the country. On April 21, The Globe and Mail reported that Air Canada Flight 881, departing Zürich, Switzerland on April 17 at 1:53 PM local time and arriving in Toronto at 4:05 PM local time, was the aircraft carrying the valuables. Flight 881 was operated by an Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER, the largest aircraft in Air Canada's fleet, and was registered as C-FITL. Neither Air Canada nor Peel Regional Police have confirmed this. This was later confirmed in the legal documents of the October 2023 lawsuit filed by Brink's to Air Canada. The company responsible for handling the money is Brink's.

In the course of the investigation, a joint task force between the Peel Regional Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recovered some $430,000, gold jewelry and equipment capable of smelting gold in order to facilitate its sale. Investigators announced on April 17, 2024, that six arrests have been made, including at least one Air Canada employee.

Lawsuit

On October 11, 2023, Miami-based Brink's filed a CAD $20 million lawsuit against Air Canada for the negligent handling and care of the items in which it was commissioned to handle. The lawsuit alleges that Air Canada handled the cargo "negligently and carelessly" following its offloading from an Air Canada flight on April 17.

The lawsuit states that on April 14, 2023, Brink's was commissioned by Swiss bank Raiffeisenbank and Swiss precious metals refining company Valcambi to move more than 400 kilograms of gold bars (valued at nearly $20 million CAD in April 2023) and nearly $2 million US dollars in bills from the Swiss city of Zürich to Toronto. On April 17, the cargo was moved onto Air Canada Flight 881, a Boeing 777-300ER flying from Zurich Airport to Toronto Pearson International Airport. According to data published by Flightradar24, Flight 881 departed Zürich at 1:25 PM Central European Time and arrived in Toronto at 3:56 PM Eastern Standard Time the same day. Following the arrival of Flight 881, the cargo was offloaded from the aircraft at approximately 4:20 PM and arrived at an Air Canada holding facility on airport grounds around 5:50 PM. The lawsuit alleges that there were "no security protocols in place" and that at 6:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, an unidentified individual was able to gain access to this Air Canada holding facility by using a fake document and handing it to Air Canada personnel who were working at the facility during the heist. Brink's alleges that "without verifying the authenticity of this document in any way, and upon receipt of the fraudulent waybill, AC (referring to Air Canada) personnel released the shipments to the unidentified individual, following which the individual absconded with the cargo." They allege that Air Canada "failed to follow through with appropriate security measures, despite charging higher shipping rates for its 'secure service'. The airline neglected to provide storing facilities equipped

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