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Spot the evidence

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Spot the evidence

Connect, 1996 articles

On behalf of Essex Police TWI has provided substantiating court evidence leading to successful prosecution of an individual for car theft

Close inspection of 'repair' welds in an estate car reveals a cover-up
Close inspection of 'repair' welds in an estate car reveals a cover-up

At the first hearing of the case the jury had been unable to reach a unanimous decision, so the Home Office Forensic Department suggested that specialist help was sought from TWI as experts in materials joining.

To proceed, the police needed expert examination of several welds in a Ford Sierra Estate car. The defendant claimed that he had rebuilt this car from a damaged vehicle, replacing the wings and respraying the whole vehicle. Thus, examination of the welds attaching the outer wing panels to the main body would provide a clear indication of the truth.

There was indeed a line of recent MIG spot welds along the top of each wing panel in the bonnet drip groove, suggesting a repair. But were these part of a genuine rebuild or added deliberately to confuse and mislead?

TWI experts inspected the vehicle using a mirror to access hidden areas. They found burn marks on the underside of the so-called repair MIG welds which had not been resprayed. These coincided with the position of the original factory resistance spot welds on the inner wing, and indicated that the MIG welds were made on top of original spot welds. The wings had therefore not been replaced. Confirmation of this was made by investigating welds securing the wings at their lower edges, and around the door hinge. These were shown to be original factory-made welds.

Other illegal changes included replacement of the original identification number on the floor panel, and etching of the registration number from the windows - decorative stickers were masking these areas.

Using this evidence and aided by the presence of two TWI specialists in court, the police proved without a doubt that the car in question was stolen.

For more information please email:


contactus@twi.co.uk