According to the Manchester Evening News, eight men were arrested in early morning raids on 8th December in Oldham and Bolton, after stolen vehicles worth over £2.2m were found at “chop shops” in Greater Manchester.
Two organised crime gangs based in Oldham, with associates in Bolton and Bury, are believed to be behind the theft of 70 luxury cars worth £2.25m. Vehicles included Range Rovers, Land Rovers, Evoque, BMWs, Audis, and VWs. since last October,
It is believed the technology they have allows them to access a vehicle without keys in 30 seconds and Police believe vehicles had been stolen across Greater Manchester, and throughout the UK.
During 12-month investigation officers from GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group intercepted cars at Liverpool docks about to be shipped abroad and recovered others already en route to the Middle East and Europe.
A number of suspected chop shops were raided in Chadderton, Oldham and Bolton, where approximately 45 stolen vehicles or parts linked to stolen vehicles were found. Also, parts were found believed to be from stolen cars for sale on the internet.
Detective Inspector Roger Smethurst of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group said:
“I think this is one of the biggest organised vehicle theft teams in the country. As soon as we shut down a chop shop they hire new premises and start again.
“These arrests have been the result of long, hard work into a sophisticated large-scale stolen cars operation and they are a huge step in our aim to reduce car thefts across Greater Manchester.
“I would like to reassure the public that GMP remain committed to tackling burglary and targeting those responsible of stealing cars. A lot of the work GMP do to tackle the issue may not be visible but catching those responsible remains a force priority.
“Cars are of both great value and sentimental value to some people and we understand that having a car stolen can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally.
“We constantly monitor the number of burglaries across Greater Manchester and information is continuously gathered and acted upon. Teams from across GMP work together to deter, disrupt and ultimately dismantle organised crime groups on a daily basis.
“Officers from GMP’s Tactical Vehicle Intercept Unit (TVIU) along with other teams use both covert and marked cars, as well as ANPR technology, to catch who we believed to be burglars and robbers in cars thought to be stolen.
“Stolen cars is a national issue and we continuously work with colleagues across the UK to tackle the problem and there are a number of investigations and lines of enquiry on-going.
“We will continue to work to bring offenders to justice, but I would ask that residents help us to help them by following our simple advice – do not leave your car keys on show or where they can easily be reached when at home, always keep your windows and doors locked and for anyone who has a steering lock, I would encourage you to use it.
“There are also other ways to help keep your car safe such as investing in a tracking device.
“Anyone with information about car thefts or anyone who believes suspicious activity is taking place at premises’ can call 101 or alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Five men, aged 25, 26, 36, 36 and 46, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal motor vehicles and conspiracy to handle stolen goods and three men, aged 19, 30 and 39, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to handle stolen goods.