Chop shop

Chop shop

In motor vehicle theft, a chop shop is a location or business which disassembles stolen automobiles for the purpose of selling them as parts. It may also be used to refer to a location or business that is involved with the selling of stolen or fraudulent goods in general, an example of the latter being a brokerage that sells non-existent equities. Another common use refers to a business whose product, service, or equipment is of questionable quality.

Stolen cars are sold in foreign countries for several reasons. In under-developed countries, there are often fewer rules and less enforcement of laws pertaining to plates and title paperwork, so the car is less likely to be noticed. Criminals are also hopeful that there is little incentive on the part of the victim to search in other countries, since even if the car is found, it may cost more (in detective, legal, and transportation fees) than the car is actually worth. This is especially true if the stolen car is of lesser value.


Difficulties stealing certain cars

Late model cars often have sophisticated anti-theft devices, requiring sophisticated measures to defeat them. For the car thief, the difficulty in bypassing these security features may be nearly impossible or too time consuming. Most cars equipped with these systems are either stolen while the keys are still in the ignition - mostly from owner negligence at a gas station - or towed away by "sneaker" tow trucks. Advanced car theft "rings" have the knowledge and equipment needed to bypass these security. For instance, on cars equipped with RF transmitters inside of the key, the RF transmitter ID must match the security module and the engine computer. So, not only does the physical key cut have to match, the RF transmitter has to match as well. To get around this, some "rings" establish relationships with car dealers and get car keys cut by VIN# directly from the dealer themselves. Other methods are to have multiple pre-cut keys to try and code scanners for RF based systems. There may be many hidden places on the car where the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is stamped. The chop shop will likely be more familiar with these devices.

In Australia, buying accident crashed cars in auction and selling the cars with new fitted parts is called car rebirthing.


A chop shop must be able to take apart a car without damaging the parts and keep them organized. Time is of the essence: more cars processed equals higher profits. There is no advantage to a large inventory, as it can be done more efficiently in a "JIT" (Just In Time) manner by asking a thief only when cars are needed.

Example statistics

In the Czech Republic there are 2.7 million registered cars. A calculated estimate (made on a sample of 240 000 cars) is that 450 000 (16%) cars were once stolen or contain stolen parts. In total 23 000 cars were stolen in 2004, of which 4000 were found (17%). Following the information from Pavel Nahodil, the representative of foreign insurance companies in the Czech Republic, about 7% of the regular market price is paid for a stolen first-generation Škoda Octavia car in a chop shop.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • chop–shop — / chäp ˌshäp/ n: a place where stolen automobiles are stripped of salable parts Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • chop shop — chop′ shop n. cvb inf a garage where stolen cars are dismantled so that their parts can be sold separately …   From formal English to slang

  • chop shop — ☆ chop shop n. a place where stolen automobiles are dismantled for parts which are sold or used to repair wrecked vehicles which are then illicitly resold …   English World dictionary

  • chop shop — noun a place where stolen cars are disassembled for their parts • Hypernyms: ↑workshop, ↑shop * * * noun : a place where stolen automobiles are stripped of salable parts * * * Informal. a garage where stolen cars are dismantled so that their… …   Useful english dictionary

  • chop-shop — n. a place where stolen cars are cut or broken up into car parts for resale. □ The state is cracking down on these chop shops. □ Once a stolen car gets to a chop shop, there’s no hope of identifying it …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • chop shop — /ˈtʃɒp ʃɒp/ (say chop shop) noun Colloquial a place where stolen motor vehicles are stripped in order to sell panels and parts to repairers. {US, from chop1 to cut + shop} …   Australian-English dictionary

  • chop shop — noun A garage where stolen automobiles or motorcycles are disassembled in order to obtain the internal parts, as the vehicle is often worth more as a collection of parts than as an operating machine. Apparently his stolen car had been taken to a… …   Wiktionary

  • chop shop — n American a customising workshop for cars or motorcycles. To chop in this case means to cut down or alter …   Contemporary slang

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