Was Pearson Heist an ‘Inside Job?’ How was $20M in Gold, Goods Stolen?

Canadian authorities are investigating the theft of a container carrying $20 million worth of gold and other high-value items from Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The heist occurred earlier this week and has the hallmarks of an inside job, according to Stephen Schneider, a criminology professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. He explained that the level of planning and organization required to access and remove the cargo from the airport suggests the involvement of someone with insider knowledge.

Police are looking into how the container was stolen and have yet to identify any suspects. The aircraft carrying the precious cargo landed at Pearson on Monday evening, and the cargo was transported to a holding facility where it was removed by illegal means. The police are exploring all angles of the case.

The facility where the theft occurred is leased to a third party and is not managed by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA). Nonetheless, the theft of $20 million worth of cargo would have warranted high security at the facility, according to Patrick Straw, executive director of the Canadian Security Association. He added that sophisticated procedures would be in place to prevent such incidents and that an insider would have found it much easier to steal the cargo.

During a news conference, Peel Regional Police Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn said that the rare theft was believed to be an isolated incident. The facility break-in did not involve access to Pearson itself and did not pose a threat to passengers or GTAA staff. Selling the stolen goods would be difficult, but it is easier to get them out of the country and sell them on the black market, Schneider suggested.

He cited the example of tens of millions of dollars worth of luxury cars that are stolen every year from the Greater Toronto Area and shipped off through the Port of Montreal or Halifax to Africa, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East. Identifying individuals capable of carrying out the heist and tracking down the stolen goods is a priority for the police. However, Schneider believes that the goods are probably already out of Ontario and on a cargo ship heading to Europe or Africa.

The theft has made international headlines, and the investigation is ongoing. The authorities have not released any new information about the case, and the police have been unable to provide specifics because the investigation is still in its early stages. The incident highlights the need for heightened security measures to prevent insider theft, which is a common occurrence at ports of entry, Schneider said.

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