Wolverhampton mechanic jailed for running illegal ‘chop shop’
A Wolverhampton mechanic has been jailed for running a stolen car ‘chop shop’ and harvesting parts worth almost £450,000.
An investigation by West Midlands Police found Eamonn O’Malley had been salvaging parts from luxury cars stolen from across the country.
Officers swooped on O’Malley’s car yard on October 6, 2015 when a tracking device inside a BMW – stolen in Stockport the previous day – was traced to the industrial unit in Oxford Street, Wolverhampton.
They found the 1 Series hatchback surrounded by a mass of stripped down vehicle parts (see below) that an expert vehicle examiner linked to cars stolen from across the West Midlands, plus Manchester, London, Stoke and Nottingham.
CCTV showed O’Malley, from Stanton Road in Wolverhampton, running off from the car yard on the day police arrived, having used a ladder to scale the 12-foot perimeter wall.
The 58-year-old – who has a string of past convictions for dishonesty and theft offences – was arrested three days later on suspicion of handling stolen goods.
In interview, he claimed to know nothing about the stolen vehicles and suggested he sublet part of the yard to a man who regularly shipped car parts to Poland – but he was unable to provide contact details for the man he suggested was responsible.
Under further questioning he later admitted handling and following a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court was jailed for three years and seven months.
Investigating officer DC Lee Plant, said: “We found parts, keys and owners’ manuals relating to an Audi Q5, two Porsches, BMWs and a Mercedes. There was evidence that at least 22 stolen vehicles had passed through O’Malley’s yard with a combined value of £448,000.
“Most were stolen in the West Midlands – including Dudley, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, Selly Oak and Wolverhampton – but others were traced to car thefts in Bromsgrove, Hyde, Bury, Nottingham, Stoke and London.
“O’Malley was providing a market for car thieves across the UK, people who were causing misery and huge inconvenience to motorists, and it’s only right given the scale of his illegal operation that he’s been handed a long jail term.”
A large quantity of stolen Virgin Media set top boxes, internet routers, TV remote controllers, cabling and fitting equipment, were also found at O’Malley’s car yard and matched to stock stolen from a van several months earlier.