At some point in their lives, every car owner experiences the scary feeling of walking out of a store and thinking that their car has gone missing from the parking lot. There's not much worse than discovering that your car has been boosted or that your windows are smashed, the interior's been trashed, and that whole CD collection has grown legs and walked away.
The fear of theft is one reason some people drive beat-up old cars that aren't worth more than the fuel in their tanks. But regardless of age, every car actually has some valuable bits and pieces that a chop shop can strip and sell for a slight profit. These dubious enterprises tear down cars and salvage anything worth even pennies on the dollar. Keep scrolling for 15 pics of chop shops after the cops busted in.
15 Police Presence
The police have a major task ahead of them whenever they locate and identify a mechanic as a chopper. Given that these cars are all broken down to the tiniest of pieces as quickly as possible, it becomes quite hard to prove that the cars being stripped are, in fact, missing. After all, they could just be salvaged cars that the owners dumped for some quick cash.
14 Bits And Pieces
Every automobile is made up of thousands of bits and pieces, so many that even the most experienced mechanic would have trouble identifying every little knickknack. Chop shops try to break cars down until they're borderline unrecognizable—all in the shortest period of time but without damaging anything that could potentially be of value.
13 The Good Side Of Town
Most people probably think that chop chops are only in the worst parts of town, where carjackers hustle to sell their wares before the cops can catch up. But hiding in plain sight in Detroit, this chop shop looks like it was in a pretty fancy neighborhood. It seems like the sounds of wrenches, dremels, and grinders may have alerted the neighbors.
12 Some Assembly Required
Chop shops take cars that have been boosted and strip them of everything and anything that might hold even the slightest value. In the US, this might seem absurd—how much could a few coolant hoses really go for on the secondhand market? But the reality is that all the OEM parts people overpay for at dealerships could probably be replaced on the cheap.
11 Spare Parts
Just like human bodies, cars being driven on a daily basis eventually fall apart, cease to run, and become shells of their former selves. Most owners drive their cars too hard without proper warming up, park them without proper cooling down, and neglect to perform even the most basic of maintenance.
10 Evidence Is Key
Being able to prove that a chop shop is dealing in parts cannibalized from boosted vehicles requires the police to do some very dirty work. After all, any kind of wrenching on any kind of car quickly leads to a mess. But these are used cars, typically brought in hot, that the chop shops try to tear down and turn into a pile of parts as quickly as humanly possible.
9 Garage Sale
With the right tools, the know-how, and the right friends, anyone can run a chop shop out of their garage. It's hard to imagine the process being worthwhile, especially given potentially unwanted attention from the authorities. This garage is almost completely full of parts—though it still has just enough room to take on another project, presumably if someone rolls up in a rush.
8 Scraping Away
Chop shops don't always just take apart cars that carjackers bring in; they can also be employed by anyone looking to cover up evidence of other dubious activities. Dumping a car into a river or the ocean might be a popular way for characters to dispose of evidence in the movies—tearing the car down into tiny pieces is a much more effective strategy in real life.
7 Such A Mess
The messiness of scrap yards, in general, is one factor that makes it hard for the authorities to figure out whether they're looking at a chop shop or a legit business. Just one quick glance at Craigslist will reveal plenty of cars being parted out by scrap and junkyards surrounding any major city.
6 Work Trucks
Anyone who has had a work truck—or van, as in the picture above—knows how paranoid they have to be about the rip off artists who are coveting their tools. Tools are valuable and just about untraceable, so they make prime targets for questionable characters. But the trucks and vans that tools get carried around in are equally as valuable, as long as a chop shop can strip them down before the authorities notice anything wrong.
The pile of parts in the picture above looks like something out of a mechanic's nightmares. Doors, frames, speakers, shocks, and springs are covered in dirt, hoses, and the detritus formed by the job of stripping down the cars. The fact that anyone could look at such a mess and find something of value to install on a running car actually becomes pretty impressive.
4 Everything Must Go
Scrappers the world over know that one man's trash is another man's treasure. A couple of steering columns, seat cushions, bumper covers, and even what looks like a top and bottom end populate this shipping container, which bears the mark of a degenerate hoarder's stash—or a chop shop's sales floor.
3 Not Just Cars
Chop shops don't just tear apart cars and trucks—motorcycles are another frequently lifted item that they're happy to strip down to nuts and bolts. This scrapyard looks like any other pile of old bikes and once again, the authorities will have a hard time actually proving that any of these beat-up, sun-baked motorcycles have been part of a larger scheme.
2 Serious Business
The responsibility for keeping cars and trucks on the road for as long as possible falls to the mechanics of the world—they can't trust the typical driver to actually maintain their vehicles as if their life depended on it. In return, the typical driver hates their mechanic, accuses them of ripping everyone off, and leaves bad reviews online. Finding the right parts for the right price is another struggle mechanics have to deal with, as well.
In video games, one way to get the police off the scent of a caper is typically to drive full-speed into a chop shop and get a fresh paint job. In real life, a fresh paint job stands out from a mile away, though it looks like someone may have attempted to camouflage the red SUV on the right of this picture anyway. Now, though, it will never drive anywhere full-speed again.
Sources: The Drive, Wikipedia, and Fox.