Gold Heist – On April 17th, 2023, a ‘high-value container’ was mysteriously stolen from a holding cargo facility at Toronto Pearson airport, after it was unloaded from a plane. As the investigation unfolded, it was discovered that the container had nearly C$20 million (US$14.8m) worth of gold inside, as well as other items of high monetary value.
Many movies have showcased some rather extraordinary and complicated heists, with plenty of us having a fascination for the stories. When you think of heists, your mind may wander to bank robberies, people trying to beat the system of online casino games and launder money, or even famous art institutions having their prized artwork stolen from under their noses. But while people may think high-class, big-score heists don’t happen that much in real life, they are mistaken, with more of them happening than people realize.
In fact, this isn’t even the first time a Toronto-area airport has made headlines for a gold heist. Back in September 1952, $215,000 worth of gold bullion was stolen at Malton airport, the precursor to Pearson. During the heist, six wooden boxes of gold were taken from a steel cage in the cargo area before they were loaded on a plane bound for Montreal. At the time, it was the largest gold robbery in Canadian history, with the theft today – adjusted for inflation – worth C$2.3m. The seemingly perfect crime, with no witnesses, has never been solved.
So, what do we know so far about the latest Toronto Pearson gold heist?
What investigators do know is that the stolen gold was offloaded from Air Canada flight 881, which had arrived from Zurich on April 17th. The flight, operated by Boeing 777, departed Zurich at 13:53 local time and arrived in Toronto at 16:05, parking at a gate located in Terminal 1.
According to Peel Regional police, the cargo was offloaded and transported to a separate location, where it was reported missing a short time later. Private security and protection company Brink were apparently responsible for coordinating the shipment but have stated they have no information to share on the heist.
While no arrests have been made, many people believe the heist must have been carried out by someone who either worked on the inside or knew someone with knowledge about the gold. It cannot have just been a lucky guess that the stolen container would contain so much gold.
According to retired RCMP major-crime investigator, Bruce Pitt-Payne, police are often very strategic when it comes to releasing information about ongoing cases, and would normally only release information if it would benefit the investigation or for public safety reasons. So, the fact they haven’t released any information, doesn’t mean they do not have leads.
He went on to say that no arrests or suspect information being released is not a surprise when it comes to an investigation of this magnitude. What the police are likely doing is excluding suspects, looking at all the people who would have had any link to the airline and airport, and access to the container, and going through their alibis and backgrounds. They will be checking if anything seemed unusual about that day, April 17th, and the days leading up to it, and if there was any deviation in standard procedure when offloading and storing the gold and other goods at Toronto airport.
With the investigation still ongoing, and no news if the gold is still even in the country, we can only speculate about what happened. Perhaps this will be the second gold heist from a Toronto airport that never gets solved.