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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 14:49 GMT
Canada cracks airport theft ring
By Lee Carter
BBC News, Toronto

eBay website
The stolen goods were sold on the eBay website
Canadian police say they have uncovered a major organised theft ring that operated out of the country's largest airport.

The six-year investigation at Toronto's Pearson International Airport has led to the seizure of at least $2m worth of goods and cash.

Police say the thieves, who were airport employees, systematically sold the stolen goods over the internet.

Two people have pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

Bundles of Canadian hundred-dollar notes, computers, cameras, DVD players, mink coats were all part of one of the largest seizures of goods in a single Canadian criminal investigation.

The airport crime ring would steal cargo outright.

Lorry drivers were involved and instead of delivering selected items to their destinations, they would instead be sold on the popular eBay auction website.

Painstaking probe

The police force just west of Toronto made their breakthrough in the case by studying the patterns of goods sold over eBay.

Canadian police studied selling patterns over the internet

They painstakingly matched the items to those reported missing on a monthly basis by airport freight companies.

Police estimate the thieves stole more than $4m worth of goods over the course of their operations.

Forty-eight-year-old Hoa Lam Ong, named as the ringleader, has pleaded guilty to charges of possession of stolen good and conspiracy. Sentencing will be on 9 March.

One other person, 25-year-old Tawyna Ward, pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property. Another six people were also charged, but have now had the charges dropped.

Some of the proceeds were even used to buy a house worth $500,000.

It will be among the assets that will now be sold by the provincial attorney-general's office.

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