New cars (illustration)
New cars (illustration)Flash 90

A major Palestinian chop-shop ring has been busted, officials said Thursday.

Nineteen members of a gang of car thieves who stole thousands of vehicles and ripped them apart in order to harvest parts for sale in the aftermarket were nabbed.

The Palestinians, residents of Area A in Judea and Samaria are being interrogated for information on how the ring operated. Police and Border Patrol forced raided several of the suspects' homes , as well as two warehouses where they kept the stolen parts.

The police raids netted hundreds of stolen parts, dozens of stolen cars and motorcycles, equipment for use in breaking into vehicles and equipment to remove identifying information, like VIN numbers, from vehicles.

Police said that the gang was “very large, very profitable, and very sophisticated.” 

Car thefts in order to harvest parts for sale to garages and mechanics is a major business among Palestinians, police said, with gangs doing tens of millions of shekels worth of business each year. Thefts drive insurance costs for all Israelis up significantly, industry officials said.

In addition, road safety officials have long warned against the use of “hot” car parts that are not imported and sourced from manufacturer-approved factories. Such parts may be substandard, and can be important factors as causes of car accidents.

Some 300 Israelis were killed in road accidents last year.

News of the arrests comes a day after a major Palestinian arms ring was similarly busted by Israeli security services.