Drivers issued urgent warning for 'car cannibalism' trend with crime rates soaring

A chop shop

Experts are warning that crime rates are rising

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 14/09/2023

- 12:08

Criminals are often found stealing headlights, batteries, engines and other high value car parts

Experts are urging motorists to watch out for a rising trend in car crime which has been dubbed “car cannibalisation”.

This occurs when thieves get their hands on vehicles and strip them for parts wherever they are parked.

In doing so, the criminals do not steal the vehicle or move it to another location, making it easier for them and potentially easier to pull off.

The technique is much faster than if the vehicle were to be stolen and moved to another location.

A cannibalised car

Cannibalised cars are slowly becoming more common


It also eliminates the risks for the criminals of transporting and storing the stolen vehicle, which is harder to protect against.

As a result of the worrying trend, recovery experts Tracker are urging car owners to be aware of the trend and its associated risks.

Clive Wain, vehicle theft expert and head of police liaison at Tracker, said the UK saw a surge in vehicle thefts during the pandemic.

With the manufacturing of new vehicles being brought to a halt, the value of used cars shot up, with criminals finding a new target.

He added: “An influx of chop shops – illegal body shops used to illicitly disassemble stolen motor vehicles so their parts can be sold on – began appearing nationwide to support car-theft rings and organised crime gangs.

“This continues to be a significant concern for the police and car owners.

“This year to date, the number of illegal chop shops we have helped UK police forces uncover has more than doubled compared with the whole of 2022.

“With this new trend of car cannibalisation running alongside the rise of chop shops, the need to ramp up vehicle security has never been more important.”

Criminals are often found stealing headlights, bumpers, batteries, engines, steering wheels and other high value car parts, with Land Rover often being the most targeted car brand followed by Mercedes-Benz.

These car parts can then be sold for cash or on the black market, with criminals netting hundreds or thousands of pounds for individual parts.

Clive Wain continued, saying: “The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is only adding to demand for cheaper parts and motivation of criminals to steal sought-after parts to meet market demand.

“Drivers must do all they can to deter criminals from targeting their car.”


Police going into a chop shop

Police forces have been cracking down on the crime


Motorists are now being urged to ensure they park in areas where there is light at all hours, with many drivers installing motion-activated lights to thwart any plans to strip the cars.

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