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‘Car cannibalism’ on the rise: criminals strip cars for parts in public, confident police won’t show

Cars parked on the street are increasingly being targeted for hard to find parts, as police response proves ineffectual

Parts supply shortages that hit the auto industry post Covid are being blamed for the growing trend in cars being stripped by criminal gangs, working in full view of the public on UK streets.

Up to one in five thefts from vehicles are now thought to involve external parts being removed from cars parked in public places, with gangs of criminals relying on the inability of police forces to respond swiftly with officers on the scene, even if crimes are reported when they’re in progress.

The issue was raised in parliament last month by Edgbaston, Birmingham MP Preet Kaur Gill (Labour), who told the House of Commons that car stripping is a recurrent issue causing misery for residents. She related the story of one constituent whose Toyota Yaris became uninsurable after being stripped of parts four times in one year. They swapped to a different model, and that too was stripped in less than a week,” said Gill. Another of the Edgbaston MP’s constituents reportedly witnessed a theft in broad daylight and called the police as it was happening. “Despite informing the police she was witnessing the incident before her eyes, and there being a police station around the corner, she was told to simply log the incident online,” she said.

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The Independent, which recently investigated the trend for so-called ‘car cannibalism’, was told by West Midlands police that its success targeting ‘chop shops’ where stolen cars are taken to be stripped, had led to criminals stripping cars on the street instead as there’s less chance of being caught.

There were 145,000 reported thefts from vehicles between April and December last year, with government figures showing only 1.2 per cent resulted in a charge or summons, the Independent reports.

Have you ever been a victim of car crime? Let us know in the comments below...

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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