VANCOUVER, B.C. — Vancouver police and the B.C. Ministry of Transport Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement Branch have conducted a sting operation resulting in the closure of two repair shops that are accused of issuing fraudulent inspection records.
Dubbed Project Lick’n’Stick, the investigation involved two shops that were allegedly providing fraudulent inspection certificates for unroadworthy commercial vehicles. Sharma Truck Repair in Vancouver and Mersedes Autobody and Repair in Richmond are at the center of the investigation.
The investigation began last year after police pulled over a commercial vehicle with an expired inspection certificate, Vancouver police revealed this morning. The certificate raised concerns about the practices at Sharma Truck Repair and a provincial team then uncovered more than 500 inspections that were conducted at the shop in the first half of the year.
Sharma was soon linked to Mersedes Autobody and Repair, since both used the same mechanics, according to Vancouver Police Department supertintendent, Andy Hobbs.
“During this investigation, it was discovered that commercial vehicles that reportedly had undergone inspections at Sharma Truck Repair were failing subsequent safety inspections at an alarming rate as compared to other commercial vehicles inspected at other facilities,” Hobbs said.
During surveillance between Nov. 9 and Nov. 30, police observed Sharma Truck Repair entering 130 commercial vehicles into the Vehicle Inspection Program. However, surveillance indicated that none of the 130 vehicles were inspected as required by the Motor Vehicle Act regulations. Meanwhile, investigators were observing Mersedes Autobody Repair, and found it too was issuing inspection certificates under the name of Sharma Truck Repair. The two investigations were then merged.
“In August, a joint operation was launched between the VPD and the province,” Hobbs explained. “A six-month investigation culminated at 10 a.m. this morning with the execution of a search warrant at the Mersedes Autobody and Repair on Vanguard Road in Richmond. With the assistance of the Richmond RCMP and the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, the warrant was executed without incident.”
Police say four handguns and other items were seized in the raid. As the search warrant was being executed, police and provincial officials also visited Sharma Truck Repair to conduct a facility audit.
“The investigation is continuing and as long as there are those among us who are willing to put the rest of us at risk so that they can make a quick buck, the Vancouver Police Department and its partners will continue to pursue them relentlessly,” Hobbs said.
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