Car parts swapper handed community service and £2,000 fine

A Widnes man was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid community service and ordered to pay more than £2,000 in compensation after stealing parts from a new hire car and replacing them with components from his much older vehicle.

Alexander Keating, 23, of Upton Lane, stole the gear shift knob, steering wheel, brake callipers and other parts from an Audi A3 loaned to him by accident management company, Accident Exchange and swapped them with parts from his ageing Audi S3.

Keating was caught when a garage worker at a local bodyshop spotted the mismatch of old parts on the A3. They reported the theft to local Police and Accident Exchange’s bespoke anti-fraud team, Asset Protection Unit (APU).

Sentencing Keating at Warrington Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Woodward described the case as “a serious example of theft” and demanded he pay over £2500* in fines and court fees.

Keating, a bodyshop technician, stole the parts after his mother damaged her car in an accident and hired the Audi A3 from Accident Exchange. He used the workshop of his employer – Blue Bell Bodyshop in Wilmslow – to carry out the parts swap, but lost his job after being caught.

Neil Thomas, Director of Investigative Services at APU, said: “This guy is clearly no master criminal, to think that he could swap parts on one of our cars without us noticing.

“This case was another great example of good teamwork and how APU can work with businesses and local Police to bring all manner of motor fraudsters to justice.”

APU has helped to save £200,000 in fraudulent claims over the last 18 months.

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