Drivers warned of prime ‘hot spots’ for UK car thefts - ‘Security never been so important’

car break in

Police saw a 72 per cent increase in the number of chop shops

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 13/06/2024

- 15:33

Essex named a 'hot spot' for chop shops in the UK

Police forces across the UK have uncovered more than 50 illegal chop shops as drivers get warned to keep their cars safe.

Chop shops are illegal body shops used to disassemble stolen parts from cars. These parts are then sold separately.

The police have seen a 72 per cent increase in the number of chop shops appearing in the UK compared to the previous year.

In total, the police said they have made 80 arrests in relation to the chop shop sites but have struggled to find them quick due to “industrial-sized jammers” used by thieves to block the signal from GPS and GSM-only locators.

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However, cars fitted with Tracker tech are immune from having the signal blocked and often lead the police directly to the chop shops where stolen cars fitted with its devices are being hidden.

Clive Wain, head of police liaison at Tracker explained that thieves are stealing vehicles to order, whether to sell on as they are or to strip them for their parts to meet growing demand.

The legitimate automotive aftermarket is “struggling to supply parts” for vehicles of all ages and values, which is why last year “we recovered vehicles ranging for a £150,000 Range Rover Autobiography, all the way down to a £1,000 Audi A3,” he said.

He added: “Had we not intercepted these vehicles, their parts would have been sold very lucratively on the black market.”

The company highlighted how Essex continues to be the UK’s chop shop “prime hot spot”, mostly because of its proximity to Tilbury Docks.

Offering tips for drivers, Wain advised them to not park in unlit areas and instead opt for a safe place near or inside a home could be a better option.

Drivers should also invest in a dashcam or visible CCTV such as a video doorbell that covers the car while parked on the driveway.

Most cars are already fitted with alarms, with drivers of older vehicles without security systems in place advised to invest in an additional layer of protection.

Another suggestion from Wain was to fit a security post or a substantial gate on the driveway which can offer a physical barrier for the car.

He added that vehicles are being stripped for parts where they have been parked by their owner, rather than being stolen and dismantled at another location.

“With vehicle thefts continuing to rise, the need to ramp up vehicle security has never been more important,” he urged.

The warning comes as the cost for parts has increased by roughly 35 per cent with offenders resorting to stealing rather than paying for a replacement.


Cars parked on a street.

Cost for car parts has increased by roughly 35 per cent


The final tip drivers can incorporate to keep their vehicle safe is to invest in a stolen vehicle recovery solution which will locate a vehicle if stolen.

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