Gardaí are warning owners of transit vans of a scam run by an organised criminal gang involved in the sale and distribution of stolen machinery and vehicle engines.

Gardaí in Granard, Co. Longford, have said that the scam targets owners of Ford transit vans, who could be lured into paying for an engine replacement by adverts on popular online sales sites.

The culprits will typically offer to pick up a van from any part of the country, carry out repairs if necessary, and replace the engine with a reconditioned one before returning it to the owner.

In reality, the vehicle is instead fitted with an engine that was stolen in Ireland or the UK, with the van’s owner being told it’s reconditioned.

“As a result, some owners, after paying out for repairs to their vans, have subsequently had their vans seized by Gardaí for investigations, which causes them further loss,” said a Garda statement.

Gardaí from the Roscommon/Longford division are advising vehicle owners, especially owners of Ford transits, to be “very wary” when responding to adverts – either online or offline – which offer engine repairs or replacements on a collect and return basis.

“You are taking a big risk giving your van to a stranger who collects it from your door and takes it away for repairs to an unknown location. If you are a victim, this scam will have cost you money and your van will be seized by Gardaí,” a Garda spokesperson said.

The Gardaí advises that you should only allow a qualified mechanic, in a garage that you know, to repair your car or van.