FILES - Picture taken on October 12, 2008 shows a row of BMW cars at a parkin g of a BMW dealer in Erfurt, eastern Germany. The German luxury carmaker BMW said on December 5, 2008 that the global economic slowdown hit BMW hard in November with unit sales slumping by more than 25 percent compared to the same period last year. Sales of BMW-brand alone cars fell 26 percent to just under 81,500, the firm said, while Mini sales were down 21 percent at 15,100. AFP PHOTO DDP/ JENS-ULRICH KOCH GERMANY OUT

Durban - A used car lot operating in Durban’s Pine Parkade in Monty Naicker (Pine) street was raided by police on Sunday, and 11 stolen and hijacked cars for sale were seized.

The Isipingo vehicle identity section arrived unexpectedly to inspect about 500 vehicles, displayed on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors. Four of the vehicles were “hidden” on the third floor, which was not used for the public display.

Police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said most of the vehicles had been stolen from Chatsworth, Bayview, Point and uMbilo. They included a new Audi, a Toyota Yaris and a VW Polo Vivo.

“Police conducted the operation with metro police who closed all the exits of the Pine Parkade to ensure no vehicle was taken out. A 43-year-old man was arrested and charged with being in possession of suspected stolen property,” he said.

The display, run by the Durban-based Armorica Agencies and Services, is open every Sunday, mainly for small-time car dealers to sell their vehicles. A one-off display fee of R150 a vehicle is charged.

One of the car traders, who declined to be named, was handcuffed after he was found with a stolen old model VW Jetta. But he was later released after he explained to police that he bought the vehicle from the same display last Sunday.

“I bought it for R12 000 with the intention of selling it for R15 000. I’d already found a buyer when police told me it was stolen. They said its chassis and engine numbers have been tampered with.”

Police recovered a white Audi stolen from Rowan Ekermans at his uMbilo home on Saturday.

Ekermans was asleep when thieves ransacked his house, found his car keys, and loaded the car with his electric appliances and clothes before driving off. “I suspect I was monitored for days,” he said.

A police officer said a Polo Vivo hijacked from a woman at gunpoint in Chatsworth was also recovered at the display a few days ago.

The officer warned potential car buyers who visited public car displays to check the vehicles before buying them.

“We have been tipped off that criminals sell them here.”

Armorica Agencies and Services owner Roselynn Lawrence said she had no power to verify the status of 500 vehicles displayed every Sunday.

“Police can come here any time because we don’t want rubbish displayed here,” said Lawrence. - The Mercury