Inconspicuous garage, barn, house with the plantation of marijuana… Places where stolen vehicles go can surprise even the police officers.
Car theft operation is usually prepared in the smallest details. Only amateurs allow themselves to drive off in someone else’s car and leave it near their place of living or at their friends’ place. Professionals, and they are in majority, are concerned about security and minimize the risk of being caught. Stolen vehicle is taken to a parking lot (sometimes even guarded) or to garage previously selected by a criminal group for some time to ‘cool down’.
The so – called carter is responsible for taking the car from the crime place to the previously selected area. Then the car is left for a few days and observed in case an advanced alarm connected to the tracking system is installed inside. „Thieves know that the location services are gaining popularity and try to eliminate the risk of being tracked through them. That is, among others, why they commonly use the jammers of GPS/GSM signals, on which the majority of monitoring services is based” – says Mirosław Marianowski from Gannet Guard Systems, dealing with tracking and finding stolen vehicles.
If from the point of view of thieves no suspected people are hanging around the car, the car goes to the chop shop. This is a place, where depending on the car’s destination, it is either disassembled to pieces or prepared for sale by changing, among others, serial numbers. The chop shop must be inconspicuous in appearance, so it does not attract the attention of outsiders (including the police) or to provide cover for the conducted criminal activity.
Chop shops and garages are organized in various places. They can be located in neighborhoods in large cities, most often in one of the many adjoining garages. This place has nothing special to the untrained eye. Sometimes vehicles end up in the workshops of service undertakings involved in the repair of vehicles. – A few years ago, we tracked down Caterpillar in one of such garages near Warsaw. The situation was quite funny, because eight guys who were at the scene were so surprised by the appearance of our team accompanied by the police that they were not able to explain their presence. One of the gentlemen in flip – flops justified himself that he came from Poznan for strawberries and he did not know why the uniforms identified him – says Mirosław Marianowski from Gannet Guard Systems. In addition to urban centres, it often happens that different utility rooms often play the role of garages. These are wooden or brick barns, garages, and even pigsties.
There are also specialized garages, i.e. where specialists in dismantling stolen vehicles for parts work individually or in teams. These are places with good lighting, where the efficiency of work increases – that is why they are often devoid of windows so that nosy neighbours do not get a chance to see anything. Others equip them with jammers aimed at preventing the location of a stolen vehicle.
The most interesting examples of garages and chops shops
Bunker: police officers from Poznan found a garage with three stolen vehicles hidden in old bunkers. These were Polonez, Citroen and Volkswagen, which a few days earlier disappeared from the parking lots throughout the city.
Barn: Police officers tracked down stolen VW Touran and BMW in series 1 in one of the barns in the county of Kutno. Cars stolen in Łódź, Pabianice and Zgierz and other cities of Łódzkie were disassembled in the chop shop. There were the elements of, among others, BMW, Renault and Audi.
Private possession with marijuana: Lower Silesia police concluded that car garages were located in the area of several premises. Luxury cars stolen in the area of the European Union and spare parts for, among others, Porsche, Mercedes, Audi and BMW were found there, worth a total of more than 1,5 milion zlotys. In addition to it, licence plates, keys for over 150 vehicles, electronic and computer equipment and jewellery with a total value of more than 500 thousand zlotys were secured. The biggest surprise turned out to be… finding over 500 cannabis bushes, from which one could get hundreds of thousands of servings of drugs with a value of more than 2 million zlotys.
Piggery: A young man rented a pigsty near Świdnica and organized there a site for the parts of stolen vehicles. He disassembled there, among others, Volkswagen, Audi and BMW. In total, he disassembled there more than 20 vehicles.
Basement: In the basement of a building located on the property in the district of Kłodzko, police officers found tens of spare parts. They also secured three engines. Already after the initial check in databases, it turned out that they were coming from at least a few vehicles lost beyond the borders of our country.
Scrap metal and non – ferrous metals yard: police officers from the department to fight automotive crime in Łódź found Fiat Ducato and Mercedes Sprinter in a chop shop worth circa 155 thousand zlotys.
Forest glade: Mazovia police tracked down car garage located in the middle of the forest. On-site, crime detectives arrested three robbers and seized two cars: stolen Suzuki Vitara and Toyota Auris.