How to spot a ‘chop shop’

Not all auto thieves conduct their illegal activities in the same manner or for the same purpose.

Some car thieves steal vehicles to resell while others profit from stealing cars and then selling the parts.

Illegal operations known as “chop shops” are places where stolen vehicles are disassembled so that parts may be resold. “Chop shops” can be found almost anywhere in the city.


Here are a few signs that may indicate that an illegal “chop shop” is being operated in your neighborhood:

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1.) The presence of multiple vehicles in varying states of disassembly.
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2.) Multiple vehicle parts such as engines, transmissions, fuel tanks, seats, doors, wheels, and tires.
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3.) Heavy lift equipment such as hoists.
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4.) Numerous types of tools, especially acetylene cutting torches.
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5.) High fencing or other objects used to obstruct or conceal the work area.


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Additional signs may be:

  • Loud destruction noises at inappropriate hours
  • Vehicles seen entering a location but never leaving
  • Covered vehicles at a location
  • Cargo vans or trucks coming and going

The presence of these indicators may warrant further investigation by police but do not necessarily mean that illegal activity is occurring.