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State DMV cracks down on suspected SLO County chop shops

DMV Investigations Chief Frank Alvarez talks SLO County chop shops

This week, the California DMV conducted nearly three dozen surprise inspections of suspected unlicensed vehicle dismantlers in SLO County. Chief Frank Alvarez discusses the operation.
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This week, the California DMV conducted nearly three dozen surprise inspections of suspected unlicensed vehicle dismantlers in SLO County. Chief Frank Alvarez discusses the operation.

State Department of Motor Vehicles employees targeted nearly three dozen suspected chop shops in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties for unlicensed vehicle dismantling.

The two-day operation started Sept. 6 and led to 14 citations for illegal dismantling and seven citations for violation of state and federal environmental regulations, the agency reported. Inspectors said they found some vehicles “that were in the process of being dismantled.”

“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,” DMV Chief of Investigations Frank Alvarez said in prepared remarks.

Investigators targeted activity in the Nipomo Mesa area, “which includes the cities of Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.”

Inspectors checked vehicle identification numbers and examined engines and license plate numbers to check for stolen vehicles and parts.

“Unlicensed automobile dismantlers operate in the underground economy and do not comply with the licensing requirements. 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,” the DMV said.

Unlicensed dismantling activity can be reported to the DMV Investigations Division via its online complaint form or by visiting www.dmv.ca.gov.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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