Thieves pull off $14.8M heist at Toronto airport

Thieves at Canada's busiest airport made off with gold and other valuables estimated to be worth just over $14.8 million, police said Thursday. No arrests have been made yet and an investigation is underway.

The high-profile heist occurred after a flight carrying the cargo landed Monday at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Peel Regional Police Inspector Stephen Duivesteyn told reporters. After the plane was unloaded, the shipment was brought to a holding facility, from which it was removed "by illegal means," he said.

Duivesteyn described the cargo as "regular aircraft container" size and declined to give details on where the plane came from.

"This is an isolated incident," he said, adding that the public should not be concerned. "This is very rare," he said.

A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation, told The Washington Post that Air Canada had flown in the cargo and it was being held at a site managed by the carrier when it vanished.

The theft comes amid surging demand for gold, which jumped 18% in 2022, according to the World Gold Council -- a spike it attributed to geopolitical uncertainty and inflation.

In a statement released late Thursday, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said it wishes to "clarify that thieves accessed the public side of a warehouse that is leased to a third party, outside of our primary security line." The incident did not pose a threat to passengers, it wrote.

Pearson airport declined to comment further on the matter, citing "an active police investigation" in an email.

The airport heist could rival some of the more famous -- and intriguing -- thefts in Canadian history. Among them is the so-called maple syrup heist, in which 9,571 barrels of the sap, worth around $13.3 million were secretly drained and replaced with water.

Gold is also somewhat abundant in Canada. According to government data, the country is the world's fourth largest producer of the precious metal and exported some $15.8 billion worth of it in 2021. The majority comes from Ontario and Quebec.

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