Portree has been targeted by Police and Trading Standards as part of a national campaign to tackle the unlicensed selling of second hand vehicles.

The initiative, named Operation Petra, was carried out between Monday 27 March, 2017 and today, Thursday 30 March, 2017 throughout the Highland area including in Thurso, Wick, Alness, Kirkhill, Inverness and Portree.

Police and Trading Standards Officers visited individuals who have been identified as regular sellers of used vehicles and who may not have the appropriate licenses. As part of these visits, individuals have been reminded of their legal responsibilities.

Over recent years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of vehicles offered for sale through free ads on the internet and social media. Many sellers do not have license to trade and police and Trading Standards are receiving an increasing number of complaints about abandoned vehicles as well as about unscrupulous dealers.

If individuals frequently sell used vehicles, the activity is classed as a business and a second-hand motor vehicle dealers' licence is required. It is a criminal offence to deal in used vehicles without the appropriate licence and carries a maximum penalty of a £5000 fine.

Superintendent Colin Gough said: "We will continue to support our partners in tackling the growing issue of unlicensed sales of second hand motor vehicles. The risks have been clearly highlighted and our priority is to ensure that vehicles offered for sale are in a safe condition for use on public roads and that lives are not being put at risk".

Mark McGinty, Trading Standards Team Leader, said: “The problem for the consumer of buying a vehicle from an unlicensed trader is twofold. Licensed traders will conduct safety and background checks on vehicles before they are offered for sale, this means vehicles will be safe and correctly described. Secondly, when a problem does occur with a vehicle purchased from a licensed trader, the consumer is protected in law and has a range of rights available to them; unlicensed traders who pretend to be private individuals do so to remove these rights from the consumer”.

He continues: “It is a criminal offence to trade without a licence and also to purport to be a private individual when actually a trader”.

Police Scotland and Highland Council Trading Standards will remain vigilant following this week of action and anyone found selling second hand motor vehicles without a licence or pretending to be a private individual may find themselves the subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal.

Members of the public who suspect illegal car dealing is going on in their community can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06, where the information will be passed to Trading Standards