When the 2021 Nissan Rogue that belongs to his father was stolen in Oakville, Ont., late last year, Rami Temani says he immediately called police.
But after being told it would take several hours for officers to arrive, and seeing the transactions rack up on his mother’s debit card at nearby locations, Temani decided he had to take matters into his own hands.
He was at the Goodlife Fitness in the Oakville Place mall back in November, waiting to meet up with his mother at the gym. He says his mother left her car keys in a gym locker before returning to find them missing, along with her wallet.
“I knew exactly what happened. I knew that the car was gone,” Temani said.
The family’s story is not unique. They’re among the hundreds of people in Halton Region west of Toronto who have fallen victim to car theft — a crime that is now rampant across the province. In 2022, roughly 1,380 vehicles were stolen across the region, according to Halton police data. In Toronto alone, more than 8,000 vehicles were reported stolen in 2022. That number is up from about 5,600 in 2021.
‘Stop, don’t go,’ dispatcher warned Temani
Halton Regional Police say they were notified about the theft at roughly 9:55 p.m.
Almost immediately after the car was stolen, Temani says his mother was notified of charges on her credit card for more than $800 from nearby gas stations and convenience stores. That’s when he began to drive to each one, hoping to find the vehicle, even though the 911 dispatcher warned him not to.
“She was very rude,” he told CBC Toronto, adding that the dispatcher “was just yelling at me, telling me to stop, don’t go. So I hung up the phone.”
After roughly more than an hour of driving around the area, Temani says he spotted the car behind a Petro-Canada gas station near Upper Middle Road East and Eighth Line, just three kilometres from where it had been stolen. He notified police immediately.
His father, Khaled Temani, who owns a trucking company, says he thought his car, along with important work papers, would be long gone when he learned it had been stolen.
“I was shocked … I got everything in my car. My business, my briefcase, my paperwork, everything is inside,” he said.
“I never heard about somebody whose car was stolen and found it right away. So I was like thinking, ‘That’s it, man. Now what I’m going to do?'”.
But then he got the call from his son, saying he had found the vehicle.
“It was a huge relief.”
He says the vehicle was undamaged and he was able to retrieve his work documents that night.
‘That’s what we’re here for’
Halton Police arrested a 37-year-old London, Ont., woman and laid several charges in connection with the theft of Temani’s car. She was held for bail.
But if anyone’s thinking of emulating Rami Temani’s decision to track the vehicle down himself, police strongly advise against it.
“We would always urge residents to contact police in situations like this as we would not wish for a resident to put themselves at risk,” said Halton Police spokesperson Steve Elms.
“You go up to these people that are stealing vehicles, you have no idea who you’re going to be dealing with. They may be armed. There may be multiple suspects.”
Elms says the first thing everyone should do is call 911 immediately if they find themselves in a similar situation.
“That’s our job, that’s what we’re here for … call us right away,” Elms said
“If it’s a crime in progress, we’re going to respond appropriately and we’ll be there quickly as we can.”