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Man arrested as police raid Smethwick 'chop shop'

By Ian Harvey | Smethwick | Crime | Published:

A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods after a police swoop on a suspected "chop shop" in Smethwick.

Inside the suspected chop shop in Smethwick. Photo: West Midlands Police.

Friday's raid follows another at the same site earlier this month which led to the recovery of seven vehicles, and 30 parts suspected of being from stolen vehicles.

Officers were undertaking a second search of the site yesterday, following the arrest.

It comes less than a fortnight after West Midlands Police launched the campaign urging people to Shop a Chop Shop.

Chop shop raided by West Midlands Police

There are concerns a spiralling demand for car parts is fuelling a rise in vehicle crime, including car key burglaries and violent car-jackings.

Police say vehicle crime has increased significantly in the last two years, driven by the demand for parts to repair write-offs sold as repairable by the insurance industry.

Around five times more vehicles - mainly luxury marques like Audi, BMW and Range Rover or other high-spec cars - are sold at auction as fixable write-offs rather than write-offs to be scrapped for spare parts.

Inside the suspected chop shop in Smethwick. Photo: West Midlands Police.

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And it is suspected the imbalance is leading criminal gangs to steal cars to order for matching spares rather than buy expensive factory-made parts from manufacturers.

Stolen vehicles are broken down at so called chop shops - sometimes in a matter of hours - in back street garages or industrial estate units before repaired cars are sold on via eBay, Gumtree, Autotrader or other auction sites.

Since the campaign launched, West Midlands Police are now receiving an average of one report a day of chop shops operating from around the West Midlands.

Chief Superintendent Chris Todd, leading the campaign, said: "It’s fantastic that people are following our advice and letting us know of their concerns about suspected chop shops in their area.

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“We’re now getting far more intelligence through about these sites than we did before the campaign. That information will be developed and will hopefully lead to real results - putting those involved in this organised criminal enterprise behind bars and shutting down their illegitimate businesses."

What to look out for

Police say that tell-tale signs of chop shops include:

  • Noise coming from units late at night or in the early hours of the morning
  • Vehicles that look out of place going in to workshops and not coming back out
  • Large amounts of car parts being stored, sometimes in odd places such as gardens
  • Shipping containers in unusual locations
  • Expensive items such as engines and gearboxes outside workshops
  • Items for sale via on-line auction sites from the same seller, often in large quantities of the same item or similar.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who has been leading a national campaign to reduce car theft, said: “I’m pleased to see that more and more people are reporting suspicious activity around chop shops.

“If we are to close down these illegal operations then the police need communities to act as their eyes and ears.

“Whilst the early signs are good it is very important we keep up the momentum to ensure the criminals are caught and their illegal businesses shut down.

“Car theft is costing us millions of pounds every year in higher insurance premiums. Now is the time to act, before the situation worsens."

Ian Harvey

By Ian Harvey
@IanHarvey_Star

Shropshire Star Internet Editor based at the head office in Ketley, Telford

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