A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Gone to Lebanon in 60 seconds: international car thieves

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 8, 2009

I’m sorry I was late, G said one evening in mid-2007. I took my mother’s car this evening, because it had just been cleaned, and half-way here I realized that I had forgotten to switch the registration.

What? I asked, in my usual discerning fashion.

The registration for our cars, G explained. I forgot to take mine out of my wallet and switch it with my mother.

Wouldn’t it be easier to keep the registration in your glove compartment? I asked, thinking: I’ve never heard of keeping it in a wallet.

Of course not, G said, trying to remain patient with my obvious obtuseness. You have to show the registration at checkpoints. If the car is stolen, the thief will have no registration, so he can’t get too far.

Go figure, I remember thinking. I had no idea that car theft was such a big concern – but then again, I never owned a car in Lebanon.

Once I was looking for theft issues, I noticed that there were regular news reports about car thief rings in the Bekaa and other Lebanese hinterlands. The reports were usually small, vague, and quite intriguing.

And then I learned that my friend M owned a car of questionable provenance.

The salesman gave me an entire history for this car when I bought it, M told me. It was owned by a lady doctor in Canada – low mileage, safe driving conditions. But when I ran a check on the VIN number, it turned out that the car’s history was quite different.

So I should have been prepared for this next story, about a Lebanese car thieving ring in Canada. But … Ottawa? Not to belabor the point, but perhaps choosing the nation’s capital as the site of one’s massively illegal activities might not have been Mr. Tanios’ and Mr. Tirani’s smartest “business” decision.

OTTAWA — Two men are facing charges after a two-month police investigation into an illegal exporting operation that sent stolen cars and car parts from Canada to Lebanon.

Ottawa police worked with the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and the Insurance Bureau of Canada on the investigation, which recovered $400,000 worth of vehicles and parts.

So far, 14 vehicles have been recovered, with more expected to be found, said Det. Marshall Clark of the Ottawa Police organized auto theft section.

Police believe the stolen vehicles were being cut in half and shipped via the port of Montreal to Lebanon, where they would be reassembled or sold for parts. They tended to be expensive models by manufacturers such as Hummer, Infiniti and Lexus.

“It’s not the first time we’ve uncovered this,” Det. Clark said. “It is a common problem.”

Hanna Tanios, 39, of Ottawa was arrested and charged with fraudulent concealment and possession of stolen property over $5,000. Ayad Tirani, 39, formerly of Ottawa, was also charged but has not yet been arrested, as police believe he is in Lebanon.

Both men are also charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

[You can read the rest of the story here.]

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One Response to “Gone to Lebanon in 60 seconds: international car thieves”

  1. M. said

    Our car was stolen in 1997. Not a pleasant experience 🙂 And, yes, it is a hassle having to always get the car registration when driving!

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