Dunedin police say they have brought an end to a
''chop shop'' near Mosgiel, used by thieves to dismantle
stolen vehicles for the illegal sale of parts.
Sergeant Chris McLellan, of the Dunedin proactive policing
team, led a dozen officers in the search of a yard on the
corner of Sinclair Rd and Dukes Rd North yesterday.
He said the property was a ''chop shop'' linked to a spate of
vehicle thefts in and around Dunedin.
Three men were wanted in relation to the offending and it was
likely others would be implicated in the ongoing
''A group of people was stealing cars to order, chopping them
down and selling parts to the highest bidder, then selling
the unidentifiable shells to an auto dismantler. It appears
to be a reasonably sized operation,'' he said.
''We are looking for people involved in stealing, as well as
those involved in on-selling or receiving stolen parts.''
The remains of two commercial trucks and six ''performance''
vehicles were located at the property yesterday.
Sgt McLellan said all had been identified as stolen and were
collectively worth more than $70,000.
''We found chassis numbers, log books and owner/operator
manuals on site,'' he said.
Among the performance vehicles were a Toyota Starlet and
Reilly's Towage and Salvage trucks removed vehicles from the
property on police orders.
A ''significant amount'' of equipment used to dismantle
vehicles was also found at the yard, including bolt cutters,
gas cutters and grinders.
''As a result, we are now following positive lines of
inquiry. We have linked the sale of stolen motors through to
an auto dismantler in the city [Dunedin] and are completing
further inquiries in regards to that,'' Sgt McLellan said.
The three male suspects identified by police would be ''well
aware'' officers were looking for them, he said.
In the last month, Dunedin police had noticed a spate of
vehicles reported as missing, and not found.
Sgt McLellan said car thieves ''typically'' took stolen
vehicles for joy rides before dumping them, so it was
''highly unusual'' for missing vehicles not to be located.
Social media provided police with a ''breakthrough'' in the
investigation, he said.
''The use of social media and people commenting about things
meant staff were able to work on some assumptions and use it
[social media] as a form of investigation.''
He said some of the legitimate owners of stolen vehicles had
been contacted and were happy to learn their property had
been recovered, although only one car was intact.
''Unfortunately, the rest have been chopped up,'' Sgt
Six officers were involved in the ongoing investigation.
''The chop shop has now been stopped and, in due course, we
expect to make arrests,'' he said.