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Her SUV was stolen in Montreal. A Good Samaritan on Facebook helped her get it back

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Just as she had feared, a restaurant owner from eastern Quebec who visited Montreal had her SUV stolen, but says it was all thanks to the kindness of strangers on the internet — not the police — that she got it back.

Perle Morency, owner of the Côte Est restaurant in Kamouraska offers gastronomy tours in her Toyota SUV in the Bas-St-Laurent region and she came to Montreal to pick up local goods from suppliers.

She told CTV News she was a bit concerned about her SUV given everything she's heard about car thefts in Montreal and she was even making jokes about it with her friends. Last Thursday, her special edition 2023 Toyota 4Runner was stolen from a residential street in Rosemont and it was full of the local products she'd picked up.

She says she called police to report the theft and waited on the side of the street for hours and when she got tired of waiting she walked to the police station and filed a report in person. Morency says it was clear to her this wasn't a priority for them, and she was told she wasn't likely to see her SUV again so she was wasting her time.

That's when she turned to social media.

She posted a photo of her SUV, which has distinctive stickers on it, and recalls others telling her, "Forget it, you'll never find it" and "It's probably already in a shipping container on its way overseas."

But then, a man who also works in the food business and saw her post spotted her SUV on a street near Félix-Leclerc Park in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough. Not only that — he saw the person suspected of stealing the vehicle so he went after him, taking photos and a video along the way.

The person fled the scene and Morency says while she doesn't encourage people to take matters into their own hands because it could be dangerous, she's grateful that a stranger went out of his way to help her.

She's thanking the community of restaurateurs who spread the message about her SUV on social media, saying the community of restaurateurs in Montreal — whether francophone or anglophone — showed solidarity.

"They show love for each other and want to help each other," she said, adding that it's not so much the fact that her SUV was stolen that should be the takeaway in all this, rather it's the strength of the community of restaurateurs.
 

Less than half of stolen cars are recovered: Montreal police

Montreal has become a hub for vehicle theft in recent years, with police reporting a rise in the number of stolen cars since 2019.

Many of them end up in shipping containers at the Port of Montreal destined for markets overseas.

Montreal police did not respond to specific questions about Morency's experience reporting her vehicle theft.

Speaking generally, the police service wrote in an email to CTV News that it is "working hard to combat vehicle theft" and is collaborating with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other policing partners on the issue.

The force also released statistics showing that less than 50 per cent of all stolen vehicles in Montreal are recovered by police.

  • 2021: 45 per cent of stolen vehicles recovered (2,917 vehicles)
  • 2022: 49 per cent of stolen vehicles recovered (4,649 vehicles)
  • 2023: 46 per cent of stolen vehicles recovered (6,384 vehicles)

"Montreal police (SPVM) encourages anyone who has been the victim of a theft or who has information to contact 911 or their local police station," the email said.

Last month, CBSA officials announced it had recovered nearly 600 stolen vehicles worth $34 million in shipping containers at the Port of Montreal.

Montreal police recommend drivers take steps to prevent their cars from being stolen, including purchasing anti-theft devices like GPS tracking devices, immobilizers or On-Board Diagnostics blockers.

"Other preventive measures include purchasing a case or box to block the signal emitted by the vehicle's smart key," the email said, "and installing an anti-theft bar on the steering wheel."

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