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CRIME UPDATE: Crack down on motorcycle chop shops

By Dr Ken German

Previously an officer in the Metropolitan Police Stolen Car Squad



CRIME UPDATE: Crack down on motorcycle chop shops


Illegal vehicle breakers – or ‘chop shops’ – face a tougher time now eBay has teamed up with the Environment Agency in a bid to crack down on the sale of stolen bike and car parts.

An environmental permit is required to legally break vehicles, so business sellers listing used motorcycle and car parts will now receive a pop-up message reminding them of their obligations, directing them to the website, where they can get further information.

Sellers on eBay are also being advised to display their permit number, or the name of the sites where they source the parts they are selling, which provides reassurance to purchasers that they are buying from a legal dealer.

The Environment Agency is contacting all eBay traders that are not displaying their environmental credentials to provide guidance and warn them about undertaking non-permitted breaking activities.

Those intentionally operating illegally – and not responding to the Environment Agency – will find their trading account suspended or removed from eBay.

Some car/bike breakers and traders don’t realise they need a permit, and could be unaware of how to properly dismantle a vehicle, dispose of the hazardous waste or deal with fires or any environmental risks.

The Environment Agency will take further steps against traders who ignore the law, including reporting them to the police and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), as well as making a site visit.

This is an extremely useful arrangement, and at a time when the West Midlands Police (WMP) – supported by other forces – are about to lobby both the government and the insurance industry amid concerns that the practice of selling written-off cars and motorcycles for repair is fuelling the surge in vehicle theft.  

WMP has witnessed a near 100 per cent increase in vehicle thefts across the West Midlands in the last four years – up from 5,215 in 2014-15 to more than 10,000 in 2017-18.

Criminal gangs have long attempted to obtain damaged cars and bikes rated as insurance write-offs from salvage auctions, and stolen similar vehicles for the matching spares needed to repair them. Sadly, in recent times many of these are taken from the victims during violent hi-jackings.


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