Man tracks his car to Ireland on the internet – and ends up in Dubai

A Canadian man is shocked to discover his car was stolen from his Toronto driveway, tracked to a Halifax port, and sent for a short ferry trip to Ireland, ultimately going to the Middle East.

Kevin Donovan was returning home after a night out on Saturday when he parked his car in his driveway. When he got home, he noticed that his driver’s door had been pried open and the keys were nowhere to be found. The car keys were missing from his car. The theft did not appear to be a random attack.

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After further investigation, Donovan discovered the car had been stolen and tracked it to Halifax harbour in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The stolen car was apparently still in Nova Scotia with the keys inside when a shipping company tracked it back to Halifax last Friday, heading to Europe. The stolen car had passed through a ferry crossing and landed in Holland.

According to Donovan, his car was sighted only in the Halifax harbour port on Friday. After he made the Canadian port call, the car was offloaded into a trailer and driven – still without the keys in the ignition – to a ship in the northern Dutch port of Tilbury. The new owner of the car then flew into Liverpool, then travelled to Jordan for a rendezvous with a colleague in Dubai. By the time he arrived, it was a waiting agent at Dubai International airport in the United Arab Emirates.

For Donovan, the events unfolded so quickly he was not even informed at the time that his car had left Halifax harbour.

“Someone contacted me on Saturday to let me know it was going to Dublin Airport,” Donovan told the Guardian on Wednesday. “I was on the train and everything.”

Ever since Donovan bought the Porsche, only to discover it had been stolen, he has been checking his bank account and tracking his account details on his phone. He and his wife had been on a long trip to Spain and Portugal, and his family was over in Portugal. Donovan and his wife decided to postpone their return to Canada by one day, in order to take the extra two-day stopover in Dublin. He showed his daughter where his car had gone, and when she realised what had happened, Donovan quickly called his wife.

The Dublin airport where Donovan’s car is being held. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

At Dublin airport, Donovan and his wife are being held up as airport officials try to find the new owner of the car. At the airport, the car was scanned, matched to the number on Donovan’s passport, then fingerprinted. None of the search techniques was successful, according to Donovan.

Once he and his wife were granted access to the airport, they were directed to the car and, he said, the owner of the car entered a bank account and wallet. Donovan knew immediately the owner was probably part of another operation.

“There was no name on the account. When you see the information of a scam [and you see the word ‘car’], you know,” he said.

Asked whether he was angry that his car had gone missing, Donovan was forthcoming. “Absolutely,” he said. “I would be angry [too] if I was running a cargo ship.”

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Rather, he felt blessed that he had only driven his car to Dublin and not Ireland’s principal international airport, Shannon. He said: “I’m just another guy being pushed into the wall of wrongdoing.”

Asked whether his daughter was concerned about the car’s current whereabouts, Donovan said he told her at least the car was now in a foreign country and he was able to prove its ownership on account of an airline ticket.

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