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Paralympian who had medal stolen a victim of Montreal's soaring car thefts

Quebec paralympic swimmer Aurelie Rivard has picked up a lot of medals in her career.

Perhaps her most prized one is the gold medal she won for the 400-metre swim in Rio de Janeiro, an intense midrange endurance course demanding a lifetime of practice to conquer as she did.

"There are hours of work and dedication and effort and sacrifices and choices — hard choices — and a lot of emotions," she told CTV News in an interview.

But she says that proof of her hard work — the medal — was lost this weekend.

She had just attended an event where she was asked to show off her awards, and the medal was still in her car on Saturday night when she was out for dinner with friends in Old Montreal.

"I came back from dinner, and my car was gone from where it was supposed to be. There was only my window, exploded on the ground," she said, referring to her dark gray Toyota RAV4.

The vehicle is one of tens of thousands of vehicles stolen in Montreal in the last decade, and thefts are becoming more common.

In 2016, police logged fewer than 4,500 stolen cars. Last year, there were more than double that, with reported vehicle thefts exceeding 9,500.

From January to the end of August this year, there have already been more than 8,000.

"It's an epidemic," said George Iny, director of the Automobile Protection Association.

Within a matter of days at the end of September, Montreal police (SPVM) arrested five youths, all under 19, for alleged vehicle thefts.

Iny says car thieves tend to be younger, each of them making around $1,500 per car.

He says thieves are targeting large luxury vehicles. Montreal police have also identified Dodge RAMs, as well as Jeep Rubicons and Wranglers, as coveted models. Many of those stolen cars are turning up at the Port of Montreal.

In April, 53 stolen vehicles (mostly luxury SUVs and pickups) worth $2.6 million were seized at the port. Just weeks before, 17 other vehicles (again, mostly high-end SUVs) were found there.

Iny says a significant portion of stolen vehicles in Quebec and Ontario pass through the port to be sent and sold abroad.

"The ports are porous," he said. "They're leaving the country for other markets."

"It's better for the thieves also because they don't get stuck having to camouflage a vehicle and trying to resell it into the market in Canada," he added.


Experts say you should install a tracker on your vehicle that can locate it in case it's stolen. Drivers can also install a steering wheel bar to slow down any potential attackers.

Another option is to have the car's internals engraved or marked, which can dissuade thieves from taking a car.

If drivers want more specific advice, they can call their insurance company. Staff there should be able to tell drivers about their car's vulnerabilities to theft.

Iny said owners of higher-end vehicles could avert the gaze of luxury car thieves using another method.

"Buy a sedan," he said. Top Stories

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