Scrap-metal yard director Dean Raymond Crosbie has entered immediate guilty pleas to 13 charges after police searched his business in Rolleston early this month.
When interviewed about receiving stolen cars and parts, Crosbie told police: "I take people at face value."
He admitted that he sometimes thought the purchases were "too good to be true".
Defence counsel Steve Hembrow said Crosbie's business affairs with Independent Metal Traders in Jones Rd, Rolleston, were now being wound up. The business operated on a rental property.
Police expressed concern about the business' record-keeping, where several cars a week were being bought but the company's records showed only 74 car purchases over an 18-month period.
Police said they found evidence of 23 stolen vehicles when they raided the company's yard on August 8.
Crosbie, 47, of Templeton, entered the pleas at his first appearance when the case was called before Judge Robert Murfitt in the Christchurch District Court today.
Crosbie admitted receiving seven stolen cars, car parts and two engines with a total value of $36,800, as well as operating as a second-hand dealer when not licensed and failing to record a seller's identification.
The receiving charges allege that he was "reckless" about whether the cars and other items had been stolen.
He has entered no plea to a further charge of receiving a car worth $3000, and that charge has been remanded, along with the other charges while discussions continue with the police.
The police had previously spoken to Crosbie to get him to comply with the regulations for second-hand traders but he had failed to apply for his certificate, although a licence had been issued to the company in 2011.
The police detailed finding stolen cars and parts, registration plates and stickers that could be traced to stolen vehicles, and also found horse-riding gear worth $6680 that had been removed from a stolen vehicle.
Judge Murfitt remanded Crosbie on bail for sentencing on October 22. He imposed a condition that Crosbie must live at his home and surrender his passport.
The judge asked for a pre-sentence report to cover Crosbie's suitability for home or community detention.
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