Chop Shop
rating: 0+x

Basic Information

(not to be confused with a chop house and nothing to do with the sort of chop used in Asia.

A chop shop is a criminal enterprise that dismantles stolen cars to sell them on as spare parts, on the assumption that whilst the stolen vehicle is more valuable it is also a lot easier to trace, whilst the individual components are still worth stealing and not readily identifiable. There is also the potential to swap out cosmetic elements to disguise a stolen car, although this won't pass a chassis number check and is best used only to move the vehicle to another jurisdiction. Presumably a chop shop can also serve as a fence for vehicle parts stolen in other ways (including heisting truck loads of the things from a distribution network), and probably runs an apparently legitimate discount motor maintenance shop as cover (and to dispose of parts that they cannot sell).

Note that in most cases, chop shops will tend to specialise in high value brands or items with a resale value - where new off label, or legitimate reconditioned parts are cheap and readily available, it's probably not worth stealing them. No-one wants to waste time, money and concealment breaking down the ten year old Vauxhall Viva you stole from outside Morrisons.

More cinematic chop shops will serve as general black market garages, repairing combat damage (or even just reportable RTA damage), valeting out traces of dead (criminal) and installing "non-DVLA approved modifications", from engine boosters to concealed weapons and armour.

Quality of service probably varies - in some cases it may be barely competent (especially in the case of a cover business), but selling poor quality "salvage" is likely to be bad for business, and, given the high end nature of a lot of their work, possibly dangerous (especially if they do a shoddy install for the wrong person). The illegal end of the business can certainly rely on the complicity of the customer as some protection, but on the other hand it also probably relies on word of mouth for advertising. The cinematic version is expensive but hyper-competent.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • In sillier settings, the chop-shop's cover business may have one legitimate client: a very old and oblivious lady who has never taken her Morris Minor anywhere else, having become a loyal customer in the days when the place was a legitimate, if struggling, local garage. Now she sits and drinks tea with a very embarrassed and awkward bullet monkey who is supposed to be front security but has been misidentified as a receptionist, whilst the mechanics work on her ancient vehicle between two luxury sedans that are being dismantled at lightning speed.
  • Easily recycled in space.
  • Pre-modern settings are probably limited to given a makeover to a stolen horse (and/or altering brand marks) so that it is less easy to identify, although pirates might have a use for a shipwright who can disguise and re-sell their prizes.
  • Given the amount of data storage in modern cars, there may be a few Easter eggs to be found in salvaged appliances.
  • An occupational hazard when buying parts on the interwebz. Especially "reconditioned" high end parts.
  • A stolen car, needed, for example, for forensic investigation may turn out to have vanished into a chop-shop with the parts already in the wind.
  • Conversely, a set of forensic traces to another case may appear in another car. After some investigation it turns out that the owner brought some cheap second hand parts online …
  • Story from teh interwebz about a chap doing something similar on his own account: Chap finds a high end motorbike, of a sort he has always wanted but could never afford, abandoned on his property, probably by a joyrider. In a fit of ingenious dishonesty he strips the bike down to its frame and stashes all of the parts in his garage, before dragging the frame to a more remote part of his property, pouring some lighter fuel on it to inflict cosmetic burns and leaving it a week or so. He then reports it to the police, who duly appear, note the serial number and confirm that this is, indeed, the remains of a stolen motorbike. They close the case, declining to investigate and report to the insurers who write the bike off and pay the value to the original owner. The narrator then asks the insurer if they are going to collect the bike from his land, or if he can claim it and scrap it himself - since the latter is a lot cheaper for them, they transfer title for the chassis (UK vehicle law is pretty stringent about tracking a VIN all the way to final destruction) and tell him to do what he likes with it. He then "reconditions" it, refits all the parts he has stashed and has it inspected and re-registered as a rebuilt wreck. A fully functional, high end motorbike for a few hundred in fees, a couple of weeks labour and just a little dishonesty.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License