A chop shop with six stripped stolen vehicles, including a luxury one which was towed from an accident scene, was uncovered by police at Bushkoppies in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on Friday.
Police also discovered a boat, trailer and 10 vehicles which had their VIN numbers tampered with. These were seized for further investigation, according to police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters.
“The Provincial Vehicle Crime Investigating Unit has opened an inquiry for further investigation as no suspects have been arrested as yet,” she said.
These were discovered during a multidisciplinary operation dubbed O Kae Molao and led by Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela and community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko.
Seven more cars, including a Quantum, were impounded at a roadblock on the N12 on suspicion of being stolen or hijacked.
Meanwhile, a suspect was arrested after allegedly attempting to bribe police officers and brand managers who were in the process of confiscating counterfeit goods found in his possession.
“Not far from this scene, another team working with Sars customs on an intelligence-driven activation, pounced on a house and found boxes of illicit cigarettes whose value is yet to be determined. Boxes containing cartons of different illicit cigarettes were stacked on the ground and first floors of the double-storey house,” said Peters.
The operation was conducted in several places and led to the arrest of 187 other suspects for different offences — 34 of whom were detained for being in the country illegally.
148 of the arrested suspects were successfully traced during the detective raids on warrants of arrest for crimes such as murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, child neglect, pointing of a firearm, and possession of drugs, according to Peters.
A total of 277 suspects, 222 of whom were on the police’s list of wanted suspects, were arrested in Ekurhuleni. Some of the suspects were arrested for possession and/or dealing in drugs, including Mandrax and nyaope, while a number of liquor outlets were shut down on various contraventions and liquor seized, Peters added.
Meanwhile, operations in Tshwane resulted in the arrest of 279 wanted suspects, three for possession of drugs and 11 for being in the country illegally. Five illegal liquor outlets were shut down, and fines issued to five traders on contravention of the Second Hand Goods Act.
Mawela commended the arrests, made as a result of a partnership between the SAPS in Gauteng and private stakeholders.
“I have previously said that we need to sustain the momentum of these crackdown operations at panel beaters or chop shops towards ultimately choking the market for hijackings and theft of vehicles as this often comes with much violence against the victims,” said Mawela.