ATF Professional recently had the opportunity to ask Jennifer Sims, Assistant Chief Constable of the Cheshire Police and National lead for vehicle crime with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), some questions about cash payments and vehicle recycling and salvage operations. Find out what she had to say.
In the past, you have stated that there is a clear connection between vehicle theft and the acceptance of cash payments at salvage auctions. Would you mind explaining why you think this is the case and how it encourages car theft?
It is widely known that cash is an enabler and has clear links to organised crime – the context here is wider than just vehicle crime. The lack of an audit trail is the most attractive element for those involved in organised crime. Therefore, any avenue for the free flow of cash acts as an attractive proposition for criminals looking to either dispose of or “launder” illegal cash.
The lack of an audit trail in the cash sales within salvage auctions exploits the lack of an audit trail, this, in turn, fuels the theft of vehicles, which are then believed to be used as donor vehicles to either repair or take on the identity of the vehicle purchased from the salvage auction.
That is why the main salvage companies across the UK now no longer accept cash payments. This demonstrates their commitment to eradicate vehicle theft from society and reduce the number of victims of vehicle theft across the UK.
It is not illegal for salvage auctions to accept cash payments, so how would you encourage them to stop doing this, or do you think regulations need to be put in place to ban the acceptance of cash altogether?
The reality here is that no encouragement should be required, the links are clear, and no individual or company wants to be responsible for enabling vehicle crime. We have had some really positive results with companies such as COPART and SYNETIQ no longer accepting cash as part of their commitment to reducing crime.
Some salvage auction companies have already volunteered to stop taking cash payments. Do you hope this will become a growing trend, and do you liaise with savage auctions, and if not, how can they support you?
As above, of course, we would like this to be taken on board by all, as it is a relatively simple step.
Some may say that salvage auctions are doing nothing illegal regarding taking cash payments and that car theft and the establishment of chop shops are unfairly blamed on them. How do you respond to this? Would you agree that there are many factors to the problem surrounding car theft and salvage auctions can only help play a part in its decline?
Let me be clear here: the use of cash doesn’t automatically indicate criminal intent, and there are some that would always rather deal with cash due to the nature of their business. There are many elements to the wider problem-solving work currently underway within the National Vehicle Crime Portfolio, and this work features as one element.
If a salvage auction company or vehicle recycler wish to ask how they can play their part in helping to stop car theft or report an illegal activity, who can they contact?
Anyone wishing to engage with police on this issue should contact their local force. Illegal activity can be reported via 101 (999 in an emergency), and people can give information anonymously via Crimestoppers.