A group who stole cars from across the region, dismantled them in a 'chop shop' and listed the parts online for over £125k have been jailed for over 12 years.
An investigation was launched in March 2020 as part of routine speculative searches that regularly take place across the region and stolen vehicle parts were found through close examination.
Online platforms such as eBay are often used to sell both complete vehicles and individual parts and criminals often set up fake accounts to do so.
As a result of an investigation carried out by GMP's Serious and Organised Crime group and GMP's Specialist Operations Vehicle Examination Unit, it was found that brothers Connor Maher, 29, of Silk Mill, Spinners Lane, Poynton and Kieran Maher, 31, of Ellesmere Avenue, Marple, worked with Craig Holt, 34, of Victoria Street Ashton-under-Lyne, Craig Gault, 41, of Pendle Road, Denton and Jody Allen, 40, of Brogan Avenue, Manchester to steal, dismantle and sell car parts online.
Following enquiries, detectives found that Connor Maher ran the eBay account where a number of vehicle parts were listed. Between December 2019 and April 2020, just over £97k worth of parts were listed without buyers. In the same period, just over £28k worth of parts were bought by members of the public - totalling to just over £125k.
Maher attempted to disguise the account by making it look like a professional, trustworthy business by changing the account name to c.parts in March 2020.
A chop shop was uncovered at Pioneer Mill at Milltown Street, Radcliffe, by officers on 29 April 2020 where 15 vehicles/parts, all from relatively brand new cars, were found.
Two signal jammers - used to prevent GPRS trackers emitting signals and block signal to their mobile phones - were also found and seized.
Signal jammer found in 'chop shop'
The majority of vehicles found in the chop shop were stolen in burglaries throughout 2020 across the region including one in Stockport in January where the vehicle - a BMW s330e Saloon - was just one month old at the time.
Another burglary was reported in Bury where a VW Polo GTI was first stolen in January but later found in Oldham on false plates with an extra 1,000 miles on the clock. It was then stolen for a second time in March and located in the chop shop.
Connor Maher was sentenced to five years and five months for conspiracy to handle stolen goods and produce cannabis. Kieran Maher was sentenced to 36 months for the same offences. They were both sentenced yesterday (29 March) at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.
Galt was jailed for two years and Holt was jailed for two years on 14 April 2021 at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court. Jody Allen was given 15 months suspended for two years for handling stolen goods.
Detective Inspector Phil Kennedy, from GMP's Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: "These sentences are a result of an extensive investigation carried out by detectives in SOCG who meticulously pieced together the extent of their organised and illegal organisation. The group were stealing cars and dismantling them to make a profit and the chop shop we raided was clearly an organised set up, even fitted with a signal jammer to prevent us finding them.
"Cars are of both great value and sentimental value to some people and we understand that having a car stolen can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally.
"Burglaries across the region are constantly monitored and officers far and wide across the force are continuing to follow up a number of lines of enquiry to identify those responsible and return any items back to the rightful owners.
"Not only SOCG, but officers from other areas including the Tactical Vehicle Intercept Unit (TVIU) use both covert and marked cars, as well as ANPR technology, to catch suspected burglars and robbers and find any reported stolen cars.
"Stolen cars is a national issue and we continuously work with colleagues across the UK to tackle the issue. There's a number of investigations on-going and often it's found that one burglary is linked to a wider series which are carefully pieced together by officers over a period of time.
"We will continue to work to bring offenders to justice, but I would ask that residents help us to help them by following our simple advice - do not leave your car keys on show or where they can easily be reached when at home, always keep your windows and doors locked and for anyone who has a steering lock, I would encourage you to use it.
"There are also other ways to help keep your car safe such as investing in a tracking device.
"Anyone with information about car thefts or anyone who believes suspicious activity is taking place at premises' can call report it online at www.gmp.police.uk or alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
Last year, GMP announced it would attend every report of burglary under Operation Castle, pledging to send an officer physically to every incident and ensure that all reasonable lines of enquiry are pursued. For more information on Operation Castle, visit: Operation Castle | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk)