Customs and excise officials raid ‘cut and shut’ car garage in Phnom Penh

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Customs and excise officials raid a garage selling ‘cut and shut’ cars in the capital's Por Sen Chey district on Saturday. Photo supplied

Customs and excise officials on Saturday raided a garage selling “cut and shut” cars in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, confiscating 15 such vehicles.

“Cut and shut” refers to the illegal practice of taking two cars damaged in crashes and welding the undamaged front of one to the undamaged rear of another. Such vehicles are incredibly dangerous as their structural integrity has been compromised and can prove deadly in a crash.

Customs and excise officials were quoted by Fresh News as saying the cars were Lexuses made between 2004 and 2011, including the RX-330, the RX-350 and the RX-440H models.

The cars were left-hand drive, Fresh News reported, with three bearing fake number plates having been finished, while 12 were in the process of being repaired.

San Chey, executive director of the Social Accountability League of Cambodia, said the practice of cut and shut was illegal and dangerous, and the cars could cause accidents and lead to the deaths of those in them.

It was also a way for unscrupulous mechanics to avoid paying tax and duty, he said.

“This fraudulent practice happens when the administrative systems of state authorities are weak, meaning authorities do not inspect all vehicles on sale,” he said.

Buyers think they are getting a bargain with these cars, he said, but when they register them with the police they find out the vehicle is illegal. The buyer can then face legal problems.

To find out whether a vehicle is illegal, Chey said the Ministry of Public Works and Transport has the means to check the vehicles in its system. Buyers can then verify a car’s authenticity by checking its registration with transport officials.

Keo Sam Ath, head of Por Sen Chey’s Customs and Excise Bureau, declined to comment to The Post on Sunday, referring questions to Te Somony, the director of Phnom Penh Customs and Excise, who also declined to comment.

Khim Saran, Por Sen Chey police chief, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.