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Over 30 ‘Chop Shops’ Shut Down in First Half of 2023 Amidst Rising Vehicle Theft

In a concerning development, the first half of 2023 has witnessed the shutdown of 34 illegal ‘chop shops,’ where stolen vehicles are disassembled for their parts. This revelation coincides with the authorities’ plans to escalate raids on such unlawful operations in the coming year, as revealed in a recently released report.


Over 30 'Chop Shops' Shut Down in First Half of 2023 Amidst Rising Vehicle Theft p
Image credit: ShutterStock

Through a collaborative effort involving stolen vehicle recovery specialist Tracker and various UK police forces, a total of 34 illegal chop shops across the nation have been identified and dismantled since January. This marks a significant uptick compared to the 32 chop shops discovered throughout the entirety of 2022 under the same operation.

Experts attribute this alarming surge in black market activity to a combination of factors, including disruptions in the vehicle parts supply chain and the increasing financial burden on individuals due to rising living costs.

Of particular concern to vehicle security experts is the elevated risk faced by a specific Ford model, which seems to be a prime target for criminals engaged in vehicle theft.

The chop shops have been tracked down thanks to Tracker technology installed in customer vehicles, with the majority being high-value models that owners are eager to keep secure. These covertly fitted devices have played a crucial role in leading the police directly to the locations where stolen vehicles are either being broken down for parts sold online or undergoing modifications to conceal their identity, enabling their use in further criminal activities without detection by CCTV cameras.

Notably, a significant number of Tracker-installed vehicles have been recovered from these sites, and hundreds of other stolen vehicles and equipment, valued at millions of pounds, have also been reclaimed.

While Tracker claims that these operations in the first half of the year have resulted in ‘multiple arrests,’ exact figures have not been provided.

Clive Wain, head of police liaison at Tracker, explains:

“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.”

He continues: “With the production of the Ford Fiesta ending in July 2023 – the most-owned car in Britain with over 1.5 million licenced models on our roads – a massive second-hand parts market has been created because new parts for these vehicles are also no longer being produced,” he continues.

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



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Adam Hewitt

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

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