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Ontario family's car stolen from parking lot of Montreal hotel


A family from Ontario says their SUV was stolen from a hotel parking lot in Montreal while the family was on a March break vacation down south.

It was supposed to be a relaxing vacation for Trisha Longetin and her family.

"We worked all year to go on this trip and then it was ruined for several days at the end," she said.

On March 8, Longetin, her husband and two children drove their year-old Toyota Highlander from Ontario to Montreal–Trudeau International Airport.

She said they spent the night before their flight at the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel, opting to park in its private parking lot near a security camera.

"We put a security club on it. We parked in their private parking lot that had a security bar, which they called a two-ticket system. So we felt very secure," Longetin.

Partway through their vacation in the Dominican Republic, Longetin said she started receiving notifications on her phone through her car's app that the windows were down.

Checking the last known location, Longetin saw that it had been moved just a kilometre and a half away to an industrial part of Dorval.

"It was very, very hard. We were very stressed. We had to be making phone calls back and forth," she said.

Their SUV was gone, but she said police recovered their insurance papers and personal effects that were left on the street.

The family's ordeal comes as police forces across the country deal with high levels of car theft.

Last month, a major Ontario-Quebec police operation led to 34 arrests connected to vehicle thefts.

The Montreal airport and surrounding hotels have all had their share of cars stolen from their parking lots, said George Iny with the Automobile Protection Association.

"The staff at the hotels are well aware when their lots are vulnerable. And they also know what's being stolen," he said.

Iny said the safest bet is to leave your car at home – which isn't always possible.

Car manufacturers need to step up, he added.

"Certainly, for vehicles that are high theft targets, they are inadequately protected," he said.

Jeff Walker, president and CEO of CAA North & East Ontario, agreed.

"The technology in cars these days governing this whole immobilizer, which is how they're getting in, is very antiquated. In fact, for many cars, it's 2007 technology, which is why they're so quickly and easily able to get in," he said. "There are really two issues. One is the government has to update the regulations and encourage automakers to use 2024 technology when it comes to these kinds of protections in the car, otherwise, it's almost not useful."

The Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel said it "wouldn't be appropriate" to comment on this case because police are investigating it.

But it sent the following statement:

"Safety and security is of utmost importance to us, which is why we review our plans and procedures often, and work closely with the authorities on an ongoing basis. Our team has been in direct contact with the guest to address their concerns, which we take very seriously. We understand the distress that such an incident may cause, and we sympathize with their situation."

Montreal police replied on Wednesday, saying they would not provide a history of previous interventions linked to a specific address and generally do not comment on ongoing investigations.

The force added in a statement:

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) takes the issue of motor vehicle theft seriously, and we intervene when it occurs, both near the airport and elsewhere in our jurisdiction. Investigators from the West Criminal Investigation Division and police officers from Neighborhood Station (PDQ) 5 work on a daily basis to counter this scourge. All PDQ 5 teams in all shifts pay particular attention to the situation when they patrol their area. We are also continuing our collaboration with our partner Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), which is essential in the fight against motor vehicle theft at Montréal-Trudeau itself.

Longtin said the hotel is reimbursing them for their stay and parking, but she thinks it should also pay the family's deductible.

"You just never think that a reputable hotel in a private closed parking lot that this can happen," she said. 

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- With files from CTV News Ottawa's Austin Lee Top Stories

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