Car parts theft is big money maker - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Car parts theft is big money maker

If it comes on a car or truck, Dennis Clay has probably seen and sold it.

"Every part is valuable," says Clay, who owns Warford Street Auto Parts. "Even down to your door handles that are worth 40 or 50 dollars," adds Clay.

What may look like a bunch of broken vehicles is actually big business.

"Airbags out of these vehicles will bring five or six hundred dollars," says Clay.

Clay has also seen his share of stolen parts over nearly 30-years in auto salvage. People have even tried to pass them off to him.

"We just don't buy them," says Clay.

News of an alleged chop shop in South Memphis doesn't come as a shock to Clay. It's not the first time he's seen "hot" parts land someone in "hot" water.

"I'm not surprised at all," he says.

Clay says a sizeable lot could hide a treasure trove of illegally traded parts.

"You could have 200 stolen cars out there out of 2,000 that nobody would know about," says Clay.

Clay says any car can be disassembled in a matter of hours. It often adds up to easy money for crooks.

"They're making out like bandits," says Clay. "When you get it free, just going out and taking it, there's a lot of money to be made."

Clay says the buck should stop at reputable businesses.

"You shouldn't have anything without a title and every part off the vehicle should have a serial number on the receipt that you got with it," says Clay.

Police say a lack of paperwork is a tell-tale sign of a stolen part and can often lead to the crooks who strip cars like this one for profit.

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