Father and sons accused of clocking cars

TWO men living in Lancaster and Morecambe are to appear in court in the North East accused alongside their father in connection with illegal ‘clocking’ of cars.

Five people aged from 26 to 60, including four members of one family, have been charged with a fraud conspiracy said to have raked in about £400,000.

The people charged were not named by the police but have been identified by the Northern Echo newspaper as Alfred James Welch, 60, of Burtree Lane, Darlington, and his sons, Alfred Welch, 33, of Scale Hall, Lancaster, and James Robert Welch, 26, of Westgate, Morecambe, Lancashire.

The newspaper said the other family member was Alfred Welch Sr’s wife Marie Welch, of Whinfield Road, Darlington, who is the stepmother to his sons,

The report described them as “a prominent traveller family”.

The fifth person arrested was Leon Piotrowski, 29, of Scale Hall Lane, Lancaster.

The arrests came after a long investigation by Durham Constabulary and Darlington Borough Council’s trading standards department.

Investigators probed claims that high-mileage vehicles bought from auctions or leasing companies were having their mileage artificially reduced to inflate their resale value.

More than 40 cases have been investigated under ‘Operation Sledgehammer’, covering a total of around 4 million miles fradulently wiped from the records. Many vehicles were sold from a unit on the Albert Hill Industrial Estate, Darlington with the transactions normally handled in cash.

The fraud was usually discovered when the victim took their vehicle in for a service and the dealer’s records showed that when last serviced, it had significantly higher mileage on the clock.

In February police made a number of arrests and this morning detectives charged four men and one woman with conspiracy to commit fraud.

All are to appear at Darlington Magistrates Court on the morning of Tuesday, April 26.