Brian Lilley – Published Apr 21, 2023  • Last Updated 3 days ago  •  3 minute read

The YYZ sign at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Saturday, March 11, 2023. PHOTO BY CYNTHIA MCLEOD /Toronto Sun

From the outside, the cargo facility along Airport Rd. looks secure.

There are gates and barricades stopping vehicles coming and going, and there was definitely a security presence on patrol Friday afternoon – five days after the great gold heist.

It’s from this facility that $22 million worth of gold and banknotes was stolen on Monday, or in the words of Peel Regional Police “removed by illegal means.” That phrase, “removed by illegal means,” is an interesting one.

When we think of a heist, we often think of a robbery that includes armed men forcibly removing the items they wish to take. It doesn’t sound like that was the case in this instance.

The use of that phrase also raises questions about whether this was simple theft, the taking of something without force or the threat of it. Police are often precise in their language, so those words stick out like a sore thumb.

Across the street from the cargo facility is a restaurant popular with workers in the airport area. You can pop in for a quick hamburger, pork chop, souvlaki or even order their ribeye steak special for $39.95. It’s an unusual and eclectic place that draws all kinds of people for the food.

It’s also a spot popular with the armoured car drivers who service the airport. In addition to grabbing a bite, they often park out back waiting for their allotted pick-up time at the cargo facility.

This restaurant’s parking lot also offers the only clear shot straight across Airport Rd. and into the cargo facility from the northside.

The YYZ sign at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Saturday, March 11, 2023.

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Did the thieves who pulled off the great gold heist sit at these very tables eating some chicken fingers and fries while watching the comings and goings of the armoured cars at the airport? Unless police have suspects in mind it, and there’s no sign they do, then, they must be asking questions such as this.

And their language, again using the term “removed by illegal means” rather than stolen, raises questions about whether this was pulled off by someone with security clearance, who took the wrong, or perhaps the right load, but for the wrong purposes.

The cargo facility houses loading docks for several carriers big and small with bays for trucks of all kinds awaiting cargo. Once the cargo container holding the gold and bank notes was loaded on a trusted truck or vehicle, it could easily be driven out of the secure area and then quickly be transported just about anywhere.

There are roads and highways leading in all directions, which is no surprise given that this area is the logistics hub for the GTA. The entire infrastructure is designed to move goods as quickly as possible.

Neither TD Bank, where the gold and banknotes were destined, nor Air Canada, the company transporting the shipment, has spoken publicly about what happened. It’s doubtful that they will in the near term, but there are no doubt questions being asked about internal security protocols at both firms.

Looking at this from the outside, as someone without the knowledge police have, there is little that makes sense about this heist. From the outside, it seems like an inside job, it seems like something that organized crime would be involved in, but that may not be the story here.

One of the few pieces of pushback I’ve received from police officials was when I speculated that organized crime may be involved in the heist.

“Why would you publish that?” I was asked.

The reason is that it seems to be the simple answer.

That pushback on organized crime and the strange language describing the removal of the goods perhaps means this is more complicated than a simple crime.

There remains more questions than answers.