Crime Trends

Tracker data reveals over 40 ‘Chop Shops’ have been uncovered in 2022

Essex Hotbed for Illegal ‘Chop Shops’

In joint operations, Tracker Network (UK) and the UK police force uncovered 44 illegal chop shops during 2022 - over a 300% increase on the number of chop shop closures recorded by Tracker since 2021. Alongside vehicles recovered that were fitted with Tracker units, it has helped return 100’s of other non-Tracker fitted vehicles to their rightful owners as well as seize valuable vehicle parts worth millions of pounds. With the popularity of chop shops amongst organised crime gangs significantly on the rise, the stolen vehicle recovery expert, Tracker, is warning vehicle owners to be extra vigilant.  

Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker said, “We have seen a record number of chop shops being discovered and closed down in the UK last year. Essex has always been and continues to be the UK’s chop shop prime hot spot. Only recently, Essex police and Tracker found a number of stolen vehicles at a Tilbury chop shop site, which had been stolen over the weekend from the Met Police area. Other key regions for chop shops being found include, London, Kent, Bedfordshire, Manchester and the West Midlands.

“The lack of parts for new car manufacturing in recent years has driven a surge of sales in the second-hand car market, which in turn, generated a higher demand and price for used car spare parts, especially in 2022. This resulted in creating a perfect opportunity for thieves. Inside the illegal shops, batteries, engines, and steering wheels are stripped from cars ready to be sold for cash or on the black market.  Criminals are working 24/7 to steal cars for their parts to then sell-on to criminal networks, not only in the UK but also in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“We work very closely with UK police forces recovering stolen cars in ‘chop shops’ nationwide. A large percentage of vehicles that are stolen to order, are taken to ‘chop shops’ where the criminals strip the parts and try to mask their identities, which can often happen within just a few hours of them being taken. Given the current cost of living crisis this industry is booming adding demand for high-value parts being removed for re-sale.”

Tracker’s top tips for vehicle security

  • Protect your key fob: Keyless car theft works through a relay-style electronic device tricking your key fob signal into thinking the key is near to the car and then the device can assume all key fob power. To prevent this, keep the key – and the spare too - away from where the vehicle is kept when not in use, and block the signal by keeping the key fob in a closed tin or faraday bag.
  • Switch off and lock up: Never leave your car running idle and unattended, even when defrosting windscreens and windows on a cold morning.
  • Make life difficult: Fit security posts or a substantial gate if parking on your drive, physical barriers will make thieves think twice.
  • Don’t advertise your stuff: Never leave your belongings on show, lock them in the boot or take them with you.
  • Keep paperwork indoors – Don’t store car documents or spare keys inside the car as it makes it easier for thieves to sell it on.
  • Plan for the worst: Take car security measures to protect your car from being stolen in the first place, such as installing security lighting where you park your car and using a steering wheel lock. If criminals find a way to steal your car, having a vehicle tracker fitted can help the authorities to recover your vehicle.


Find out more about Tracker products

Tracker is the only SVR provider offering vehicle tracking systems that are supported nationwide by UK police forces. Tracker’s SVR solutions work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, so the thief won’t know it’s there. The combination of VHF with GPS/GSM technology unique to Tracker, confirms its SVR devices as a superior security defence against determined thieves.

Stolen Vehicle Recovery - Case Study

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Stolen Mercedes-Benz worth £55,000 recovered in under five hours along with fourteen other vehicles thanks to Tracker VHF signal

When Alpesh Patel realised his £55,000 Mercedes-Benz S500 AMG had been stolen from his driveway in Harrow, he immediately alerted stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) expert Tracker and was reunited with his car within just five hours.

Furthermore, the Tracker device installed on Mr Patel’s car led the Essex Police Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit and Essex Police Road Crime team to an illegal chop shop, where they made two arrests and discovered fourteen stolen cars, worth a total of around £600,000.