Inside Birmingham's car cannibal capital - as resident says: 'I'm numb to it now'

A shredded Toyota on Camden Street, Jewellery Quarter. (Picture taken on June 18.)
-Credit: (Image: Harry Leach/BirminghamLive)

Almost every day I wake up to a new car shredded in the streets immediately outside my apartment block. It's unusual if I don't see shards of glass in the roadside below a car missing its headlights, bonnet and bumper.

I've become completely numb to 'car cannibalism' - a crime which plagues the streets of Birmingham, and certainly those where I live in Jewellery Quarter. Not because I don't care - in fact I wrote about this problem several times in 2021 and 2022 - but because it's simply become a part of the scenery.

Residents who live in Camden Street and Pope Street have for years urged police to take action on this epidemic. But I know, as I am one of those residents, that nothing has improved.

READ MORE: Jewellery Quarter residents fear 'car crime on the rise' as they wake up to decimated vehicles

Audacious car thieves are routinely causing havoc only feet away from our living rooms. In truth, it happens so often - and seemingly without any repercussion or consequence - that I genuinely believe they're laughing at us.

Our dimly-lit streets, noticeably lacking CCTV, are nothing but a playground for these criminals who typically arrive in the dead of night but also strike in daylight hours too. Every week, residents, some of whom I know personally, fork out hundreds of pounds to have their cars fixed.

Or, worse yet, insurance companies deem the destruction of their vehicles so severe they're simply not worth repairing. Instead - the scrap yard beckons.

I've seen enough car cannibalism now to know what models are being targeted. Drivers of Vauxhall Corsas, Ford Fiestas and Toyota Yarris/Aygos appear to suffer the most.

Those models are at risk because they're notoriously easy and quick to disassemble. When I walk past one of those cars outside my apartment, I can't help but thinking it's only a matter of time before they're ripped apart.

Stolen car parts often end up in illegal garages, known as 'chop shops', before eventually being sold on in dodgy black market dealings. This can be right in front of our noses on popular sites such as eBay and Gumtree.

The feeling from car cannibalism victims that I've spoken to in my area is that police don't do enough - both in preventing the crime and in finding those responsible. “Police informed me on day one that they wouldn’t be looking into the matter any further," one victim told me in 2022.

Another victim, whose shredded car cost him £350 to repair, said: "It feels like an epidemic." A third added: "It’s shocking - but unfortunately the police aren’t interested.

"They emailed me a crime number and that was it." West Midlands Police, however, says the force does care.

Following a recent chop shop raid, Pc Joseph Gigli said: “Vehicle crime is a force priority for us. We're committed to disrupting it in our areas and bringing offenders who play a part in it to justice.”

All I know, from personal experience, is residents living in the Jewellery Quarter deserve better. The sad reality is this is not a new issue.

Even more depressing is that it's not one that appears to be going away any time soon.