Birmingham gang jailed over 'chop shop' racket
A gang harvested parts from more than 100 stolen cars in one of the country's largest ever "chop shop" rackets.
Four men from Birmingham ripped up vehicles taken from across the country in violent car-jackings and burglaries to fix write-offs bought at auction.
The cars, one of which had faulty airbags, were sold on to unsuspecting buyers online without safety checks.
Nadeem Arshad, Zahir Hussain, Mohammed Nadeem and Amaan Zameer were jailed at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday.
The four men were sentenced following a Newton hearing after admitting conspiracy to handle stolen vehicles and car parts.
- Nadeem, 28, Glovers Road, Small Heath, was jailed for six years
- Hussain, 31, Finch Road, Lozells, was jailed for four and a half years
- Zameer, 30, Gladstone Road, was jailed for five and a half years
- Arshad, 42, Eastlands Rd, Moseley, jailed for seven years
Zameer also pleaded guilty to assault with intent to resist arrest.
Separately, Lisa Spence, 34, of Henshaw Road, Small Heath, admitted possession of vehicle log books for use in fraud. She was given a nine month suspended sentence and ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work.
On sentencing, Judge Michael Chambers QC described the operation as "sustained and determined".
West Midlands Police said it had linked the gang to 117 stolen vehicles worth more than £1m, but believed hundreds or "potentially thousands" more could have passed through their hands.
The vehicles were stolen-to-order by unidentified thieves, police said, and found at addresses in Charles Henry Street and Cheapside, Digbeth.
Nadeem, Hussain and Zameer were arrested after an owner tracked his stolen BMW to a third premises on Grove Road in Sparkhill and alerted neighbourhood officers, who found the defendants inside.
One VW Golf, sold to a buyer for just over £10,000, was fitted with airbags unlikely to deploy in a collision, said police.
Detectives also found stolen parts being sold by the gang on eBay.
"The scale that we've seen from these chop shops is unprecedented in the West Midlands," said Det Insp Hannah Whitehouse from West Midlands Police.
The force believes a 100 per cent increase in vehicle thefts in the past four years is being driven by the criminal demand for car parts and it is lobbying the government for improved regulation.
Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.