Published June 6, 2024

Rash of golf cart thefts in Ontario, course owners believe it is organized

Surveillance footage of a suspect in the theft of 11 golf carts from Settlers' Ghost Golf Club on Apr. 19, 2024 - image supplied

In the wee hours of April 19, 11 golf carts were stolen from Settlers' Ghost Golf Club, located on Horseshoe Valley Road near Craighurst.

"The carts are staged and we park them so they are ready for the next day's business," course general manager David Graham told Barrie 360. "They took them from the back section of our area, which is a bit protected and a little bit more out view."

Surveillance cameras show two people on the property taking the carts.

"We're not 100 per cent sure once they got them off the property and down the road into the bushes on the other side of Horseshoe Valley, if there were more people over there helping putting them on the trailer."

The theft of the golf carts was confirmed by Brooklyn Harker, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Central Region, in an email to Barrie 360.

On June 1, City of Kawartha Lakes OPP executed a search warrant on a property where police say they found 12 golf carts that were reported stolen days before from Wolf Run Golf Club near Janetville.

A 44-year-old man from Little Britain was charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000.

While the attention of the public has been focused on stolen vehicles, golf carts are suddenly a hot ticket item.

Blair Breen, Central Ontario Regional Director for the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOW) of Canada, says of the 18 golf courses where a total of 192 carts have been stolen in the province in the last three years, 16 have occurred in courses represented by NGCOW Central Ontario. The majority of thefts happened in 2022 and 2024.

Breen was asked why golf carts are being stolen.

"It's like automotive vehicles, they're rather expensive and easy to get a hold of, in that respect. People are just jamming their screwdriver in and starting them up."

Breen is convinced these thefts are organized.

"There's got to be a market for it somewhere. This is far too many carts to have gone missing in such a short period of time."

Breen says a golf cart can cost between $8,000 and $9,000, and that's at the starting level.

"You could get a golf cart as expensive as $12,000 or $14,000 if you want all the bells and whistles on it."

At Settlers' Ghost, the stolen carts have been replaced at a cost of about $8,000 each, which is a dig on the bottom line.

"Losing the carts is one thing, and then you loose the revenue because now you're running out of carts and you don't have enough for your players on the course," explains Graham.

The course was able to get the carts replaced fairly quickly, but the story would have been different last year says Graham because of a shortage in supply chains.

The carts were covered through insurance but there was a deductible of around $10,000.

Settlers' Ghost has stepped up security measures in the wake of the theft, but like stealing a vehicle from a driveway, Graham is of the belief that if a thief wants it bad enough then they'll get it. In Graham's case, with the stepped up security, he just hopes he's made it more difficult.

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