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Car thefts leave black eye on AAA hockey tournament in Montreal

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A series of car thefts this week has tainted an international AAA hockey tournament at the Pierrefonds Sportsplexe.

Teams with some of the best 12-year-old hockey players in the world have travelled to Montreal from across North America and parts of Europe to compete.

"It's a very important tournament for this age bracket. The competition is great," said Roberto Gomez, ambassador for the Triple Crown Clash Super Series.

Four cars were stolen on Wednesday and Thursday outside the arena.

Parent Joe Meyer said he parked the car around 4 p.m., and when they left the rink at 7 p.m., it was gone.

"I went to look for the car, realized the car wasn't there, saw a bunch of glass on the ground, and assumed it was stolen," he said.     

All of the cars had U.S. licence plates.

"You know, unfortunately, it is what it is. I just have three kids, trying to figure out how to get home, back over the border and get to and from the rink and the hotel," said parent J.T. Caiazza.

Caiazza said his insurance company won't cover the cost of a rental until he is back in the United States.     

For now, his family of five is relying on other families for lifts to the tournament.

Organizers said the ordeal has given the tournament a black eye.

"We've actually had some feedback saying that teams will no longer be wanting to come to Montreal because of this. It's not an isolated event," said Gomez.

The arena's general manager said a similar incident occurred a few weeks ago during another event.

While there are security cameras in the parking lot, they don't provide full coverage and didn't catch the thefts.

In response to the car thefts, the tournament organizers have taken immediate action. The rear exit of the parking lot, where the thefts occurred, has been closed off. Additionally, private security has been hired.

Ironically, there is a police station next door to the arena. A patrol car is now parked outside.

"We appreciate the cooperation that the rink is putting together. And we are going to have coaches and parents be more vigilant and just keep an eye out," said Gomez.

Caiazza said he still has no idea how to get his family home to New Jersey.

"When you could get away with it, you just go and do it. So I'm not surprised about anything anymore. These are the times we live in. Unfortunately, no one cares about anything," he said.

The tournament runs until Sunday.  

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