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CRM 1000-1499

1369. Chop Shops

Title 18 U.S.C. § 2322 makes it an offense to knowingly own, operate, maintain, or control a chop shop. The term "chop shop" is defined as any building, lot, facility, or other structure or premise where one or more persons engage in receiving, concealing, destroying, disassembling, dismantling, reassembling, or storing any passenger motor vehicle part which has been unlawfully obtained in order to alter, counterfeit, deface, destroy, disguise, falsify, forge, obliterate, or remove the identity, including the vehicle identification number or derivative thereof, of such vehicle or vehicle part and to distribute, sell, or dispose of such vehicle or vehicle part in interstate or foreign commerce.

Because motor vehicle parts tend to lose their identity as stolen property after being severed from the vehicle, and because chop shop operators often dispose of stolen parts locally, rather than in interstate commerce, evidence of interstate distribution of stolen parts is difficult to obtain. Consequently, 18 U.S.C. § 2322 has been rarely used. Chop shop operators may be prosecutable under 18 U.S.C. §§ 511, 2313, and 2321.

[cited in JM 9-61.700]