California Authorities Target Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Los Angeles County
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California Authorities Target Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Los Angeles County

Investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently conducted a sting in Los Angeles County targeting unlicensed vehicle dismantlers.

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Investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently conducted a sting in Los Angeles County targeting unlicensed vehicle dismantlers.

DMV investigators targeted 40 locations in Sun Valley and Pacoima and issued 29 misdemeanor citations for offenses such as operating as an unlicensed dismantler or auto repair facility, or selling a vehicle not registered to a seller, according to the agency.

DMV investigators have issued 160 citations related to unlicensed vehicle dismantling since 2017, according to the DMV. In addition, the department has received approximately 100 complaints on its online reporting form.

“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. “The sole mission of our Vehicle Dismantler Industry Strike Team is to identify and shut down unlicensed vehicle dismantlers.”

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During the operation in Sun Valley and Pacoima, the strike team focused on verifying that businesses are complying with state laws and environmental guidelines. In addition, investigators inspected vehicle identification numbers, engines and license plates to recover stolen vehicles, components and parts.

Unlicensed vehicle dismantlers operate in the underground economy and do not comply with state licensing requirements. They also ignore environmental regulations, insurance obligations and workplace safety requirements, and avoid paying taxes, the DMV noted.

In November, the California DMV launched an awareness campaign to inform the public of the health and safety risks associated with illegal dismantling.

Dismantling a vehicle without a license is against the law and can involve stripping down vehicles, selling used vehicle parts illegally and dumping hazardous waste into the environment, the agency explained.

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An estimated 1.2 million vehicles are disposed annually in California – and approximately 360,000 wind up in the hands of unlicensed and unregulated dismantlers, according to the California DMV.

“This activity occurs not only in private garages and industrial areas, but also in residential neighborhoods, near parks, schools and vulnerable waterways such as storm drains,” the DMV said. “Individuals who dismantle vehicles without permits typically do not properly dispose of chemicals such as engine oil and transmission and radiator fluids. This hazardous waste can end up in rivers and streams and contaminate drinking water. Defective auto parts also could contribute to serious vehicle collisions. Economically, unlicensed vehicle dismantlers do not pay sales and income taxes, which results in a loss of state revenue.”

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