Car Crime & Constabulary Confidence

BirminghamLive reported in 2017 How gangs are targeting high-value cars in the West Midlands.  West Midlands Police chief constable David Thompson said car crime had “flipped” nationally. Organised crime gangs stealing high-value cars to ship abroad or cut up for parts are becoming a “serious problem”.

Could it be this intention to ‘strip & ship’ has overtaken the third option commonly encountered; the change of vehicle identity, the selling on of cloned or ringed vehicles?

The sum of the parts had long been known to be worth more than the vehicle.  In the mid ’90’s US law enforcement was warning of chop-shops and the ease with which components were removed, those displaying unique identifiers (engine numbers and VIN) anonymised or discarded.  The parts on these often older vehicles were sold on for more than the car as a whole could be purchased.

More recently, modern vehicles are being taken, often new cars, the targeted components likely being worth less than the £30,000+ car still attracting values of many £1,000’s. Having cost the thief little or nothing, this is profitable ‘work’, less complicated and risky than falsifying the car’s identity and selling it on.

Parts are less traceable and simpler to dispose of / ship. Risk vs. Reward makes stealing to butcher the car attractive.  The alternative, steal to sell as a whole  has all manner of complications … changing the identity, sourcing documentation, ensuring the history and info’ matches available data sets, advertising, providing a contact number, meeting a prospective purchaser and ensuring cash is received.

Why would a criminal not simply take the vehicle to a location, break it and sell / ship the parts to those who may have a good idea that the items were illegitimately obtained?

The West Mids. Chief Constable  is reported as saying “The recovery rate of vehicles has dropped, they’re probably going out of the country or being cut up for parts. I think it’s a really serious organised crime problem.”

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