State increases pressure on chop-shops
September 11, 2017
• Strike team targets SLO area
• “Tthe DMV has an active law enforcement team that continuously attacks problem areas”
Investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles targeted 35 locations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties in an effort to combat unlicensed vehicle dismantlers, known by the slang term chop-shops.
During a two-day enforcement operation earlier this month, DMV agents cited 14 individuals for illegally dismantling vehicles and other offenses. In addition, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control found seven of these locations in violation of state and federal environmental regulations.
“It is against the law for anyone to act as a vehicle dismantler without having an established place of business, meeting specific requirements, and having a current, valid license or temporary permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles,” says DMV Chief of Investigations Frank Alvarez.
The DMV strike team inspected business locations suspected to be involved in unlicensed vehicle dismantling activity in the Nipomo Mesa area, which includes the cities of Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles. The investigators found vehicles that were in the process of being dismantled by unlicensed individuals.
During this operation, the strike team focused on verifying that businesses complied with state laws and regulations, as well as environmental guidelines. In addition, investigators conducted Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspections, and examined engine and license plate numbers in order to recover stolen vehicles or components and parts.
“We want unlicensed vehicle dismantlers to know that the DMV has an active law enforcement team that continuously attacks problem areas throughout the state,” says Mr. Alvarez.
Unlicensed automobile dismantlers operate in the underground economy and do not comply with the licensing requirements, the DMV says. In addition, they ignore environmental regulatory requirements, insurance obligations, workplace safety requirements, and avoid paying taxes. For example, vehicle fluids can seep and contaminate ground water and defective parts can be sold to unsuspecting people, creating a potential public safety hazard.