Some of the keys stolen from unsold cars. (York Regiona... Some of the keys stolen from unsold cars. (York Regional Police)
Police near Toronto have nabbed a mastermind behind a devious car theft operation, which involved stealing keys from new cars before they were sold, tracking them down to people's homes and then leaving with the car.

Police have charged Andrew Zalewski with breaking into homes, stealing luxury cars, and conspiring to steal another $5 million worth of vehicles, according to CTV News. They discovered he and his accomplice, Damien Kaleta, were breaking into cargo containers at a train yard, and stealing one key from the pair of new keys that come with the car. They'd also take down the car's vehicle identification number, or VIN, and use that to track down the car later when it had been sold.

Police said Zalewski had about $5 million in Canadian dollars worth of cars he could have potentially stolen. Zalewski pleaded guilty to the charges this week, and faces sentencing in February.

The Canadian police suggest car buyers always insist the dealer give you two keys: "There's no reason you should be receiving a vehicle with one key, and if you have, please contact your dealership and express your concerns," Detective Constable Valdy Krawczyk told CTV. CTV posted a video on Zalewski's court date here.

They also suggest keeping your car keys out of sight, even at home, not hanging on hook near the door. That's because Zalewski had another method for stealing cars:

When he didn't have keys, the York-area police department said Zalewski would drive around Toronto-area neighborhoods looking for high-end cars. He'd then break into homes, take the keys, and leave with the car.

Police used a GPS device they slapped onto Zalewski's car to see where he was taking the cars. They tracked him for weeks before arresting him after he stole a Lexus.

Local police departments often use GPS devices, like Lojack, to track down stolen cars. Lojack recently released its list of great car recoveries in 2012:

10: Stolen Jeep Leads Officers to Huge Stash of Stolen Property

A Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that was equipped with a LoJack System was stolen from the US Army Post at Fort Bragg. Officers picked up the silent signal and began tracking the vehicle, but the thieves went off road into sand dune terrain. The following morning, law enforcement picked up the signal again and tracked it to a residence where they recovered a stash of stolen property, including a truck, motorcycle, three ATVs and a generator.

9: Durham Police Uncover Big Chop Shop

A routine recovery of a stolen vehicle equipped with LoJack led police to a warehouse, where they uncovered a major chop shop. They recovered 24 stolen vehicles, including some stolen from Texas, New Jersey and North Carolina, as well as stolen parts from at least 50 other vehicles. A suspect, who was wanted on four counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, four counts of larceny of a motor vehicle and four counts of injury to property, was arrested.

8: LoJack System Recovers Truck; Canine Recovers Thief

A Toyota Tundra, which was equipped with a LoJack System, was stolen and the silent signal was received by a K-9 officer, who alerted other police officers to join the pursuit of the thief. The thief pulled into a parking lot and by the time the officers reached the vehicle, it was empty. While some officers searched the area, the police canine caught the scent and found the thief hiding under the stolen Tundra.

7: Stolen FJ Cruiser Recovered in Eight Minutes

Imagine coming home from grocery shopping, leaving your car open while you take bags into the house, then coming back out to find your car gone. That's what happened to the owner of a 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Fortunately, the Cruiser was equipped with LoJack and just eight short minutes after the system was activated, deputies recovered the FJ Cruiser and apprehended a juvenile female driver.

6: Houston Police Recover VIN-Switched Chevrolet Silverado

When police tracked down a stolen Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck in Houston, they discovered that a phony vehicle identification number (VIN) had been attached to its dash to disguise the truck's identity. Officers inspected the original VIN and determined that it was from the stolen vehicle.

5: Ford Pickup Stolen from Dealership Immediately After LoJack System is Installed

Thieves stole a brand new 2012 Ford F-150 pickup truck right off the lot of a Houston dealership where a LoJack System had been installed minutes earlier. Local police recovered the vehicle in less than an hour and arrested the unsuspecting bad guys.

4: Stolen Classic Chevy Leads to $120,000 Recovery

Thieves stole a Carson Race Trailer and hitched it to a stolen Chevy Silverado . Inside the trailer they stored a stolen 1956 Bel Air Custom Convertible. Little did they know that the classic car was equipped with a LoJack System. LAPD tracked the signal from the Chevy and recovered all three stolen vehicles. Total value of the recovery was more than $120,000.

3: Stolen Truck Leads to 12 Other Stolen Vehicles

Seven stolen Cadillac Escalades, three stolen Chevrolet pickups, one stolen Chevrolet Suburban and a stolen Dodge pickup were all recovered thanks to the LoJack System that was installed in a GMC Yukon. The Yukon was stolen from Fort Worth, Texas, and tracked down by police to a warehouse where the other vehicles were stored. The only vehicle not stripped was the Yukon. Total value of these recoveries: $182,000.

2: Police Apprehend Criminals Who Terrorized Elderly Man

Four con men, posing as utility workers, gained access to the home of an elderly handicapped man in Daly City, Calif., terrorizing the victim, stealing his cash and valuables, and forcing him to give up his ATM PIN and the keys to his car. The car was equipped with a LoJack System. Police tracked the man's stolen Honda and apprehended four suspects who were arrested on several felony charges.

1: Thieves Attempt to Conceal and Ship Multiple Vehicles Overseas

When the owner of a 2010 Toyota RAV-4 reported his vehicle stolen to Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, LoJack Police Tracking Computers led police on a trail that ended with the bust of an international theft ring. Picture police dragging dozens of mattresses out of a shipping container to find the RAV-4 hidden along with several other vehicles that were bound for exportation overseas – because that's exactly what happened.

Share This Photo X