Police in are investigating a brazen heist of nearly C$20m (US$14.8m) in gold and other “high value” items at Toronto’s Pearson airport.
On Thursday evening, Peel Regional Police said the gold and other goods were stolen on Monday after containers were offloaded from an aircraft.
“An aircraft arrived here at the airport in the early evening. As per normal procedure, the aircraft was unloaded and cargo was transported from the aircraft to a holding cargo facility,” inspector Stephen Duivesteyn said while announcing the theft.
“What I can say is that the container [had] a high-value shipment. It did contain gold but was not exclusive to gold and contained other items of monetary value.”
Investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were also looking into the theft, which is one of the largest in Canadian history. The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, citing the “active police investigation”, declined to comment on the theft.
Goldmines from northern Ontario often ship bullion through the city’s airport, which handles nearly half of the country’s air cargo.
Duivesteyn said he wouldn’t call it a “professional” job at this time, adding that the investigation was ongoing and the incident was isolated. Police did not identify the intended destination of the stolen cargo, nor did they confirm the gold was still in the country.
“This is very rare,” Duivesteyn said.
But it isn’t the first time a Toronto-area airport has made headlines for a gold heist.
On 25 September 1952, $215,000 worth of gold bullion was stolen at Malton Airport, the precursor to Pearson. At the time it was the largest gold robbery in Canadian history. Adjusted for inflation, the theft today would have been worth C$2.3m.
During that heist, six wooden boxes of gold were taken from a steel cage from the airport’s cargo area before they were loaded on a plane bound for Montreal.
“It just seemed to vanish,” one investigator told the Toronto Star . The seemingly perfect crime, with no witnesses, was never solved.
Trans-Canada Air Lines eventually changed its name to Air Canada in 1965– the same airline believed to have been hit by Monday’s theft.
Previous high value heists have targeted and the country’s vast maple syrup stockpile. In 2014, mastermind Richard Vallières from a Quebec warehouse, part of the province’s strategic reserve. The caper spawned both a wide-ranging investigation that eventually took him down – and .
Unlike many others, we have no billionaire owner, meaning we can fearlessly chase the truth and report it with integrity. 2023 will be no different; we will work with trademark determination and passion to bring you journalism that’s always free from commercial or political interference. No one edits our editor or diverts our attention from what’s most important.
With your support, we’ll continue to keep Guardian journalism open and free for everyone to read. When access to information is made equal, greater numbers of people can understand global events and their impact on people and communities. Together, we can demand better from the powerful and fight for democracy.
Whether you give a little or a lot, your funding is vital in powering our reporting for years to come. If you can, please support us on a monthly basis from just $2. It takes less than a minute to set up, and you can rest assured that you’re making a big impact every single month in support of open, independent journalism. Thank you.