Police find double the amount of chop shops as vehicle thefts increase

The statistic company Tracker Network has revealed that, between January and August 2023, the police raided twice the number of illegal ‘chop shops’ compared to the same period in 2022.

In the first eight months of the year, police officers raided 34 garages in which stolen vehicles were being stripped for parts.

Clive Wain, the head of police liaison at Tracker outlined why so many more chop shops are being found in 2023.

He explained: “The alarming increase in the number of chop shops largely reflects a rise in demand for good quality used parts in recent years, partly due to continued new part supply chain delays.

“However, the cost-of-living crisis has also fuelled illegal activities. Thieves often look to ship stolen cars or its parts overseas in containers to places like the Middle East and Africa where they can be sold for two or three times more than they would cost in the UK.”

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Tracker Network also noted that, whilst many believe chop shops are small backstreet garages, they often operate on a large scale.

One recent raid revealed several dozen cars being dismantled, with over 50 engines prepared to be exported.

The organisation also noted that, during the raids, the most popular car to be stripped by criminals is the Ford Fiesta supermini.

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Clive explained what makes the Ford Fiesta a popular car for criminals to target and strip for parts to sell on the black market.

He added: “With the production of the Ford Fiesta finishing in July 2023 – the most-owned car in Britain with over 1.5 million licensed models on our roads and the UK’s tenth most popular car – a massive second-hand parts market has been created because new parts for these vehicles are also no longer being produced.

“Criminals have been quick to jump on this opportunity, lucratively selling on stolen Ford Fiesta parts on the black market.”

To keep thieves from stealing vehicles, the Metropolitan Police advises motorists to always park in sensible places that are either well lit or are covered by security cameras.

In addition, drivers should remember to lock their vehicle, even if it is unattended for short periods of time, making sure that fobs to vehicles with keyless entry are stored in a faraday pouch that blocks their signal.

Finally, the force also noted that it is always a good idea for motorists to fit their cars with other security devices, from traditional steering wheel clamps to motion-sensing dashcams.

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