Chop Shop and identity theft bust in Calwa

FRESNO, Calif.

Normally chop shops are found in commercial areas but lately officers have seen more and more this happening in neighborhoods like this one. We've already seen five others in houses this year. But Fresno's anti-theft task force says this home was not only the location of a chop shop but also a place of mail and identity fraud.

Members of Fresno's "Help Eliminate Auto Theft" or H.E.A.T team arrested a 23-year-old woman suspected of stealing a Mercedes and Honda Friday night. That arrest allowed them to serve a search warrant across the street at a home in Southeast Fresno. Inside the garage officers found a Honda Civic literally chopped up in half as well as finding another stolen car on the street. But officers ended up finding a whole lot more once they got inside.

Fresno H.E.A.T. Supervisor, Lenny Sherman said, "We found numerous credit cards, mail theft, checks from mail theft and dumpster diving and actually the computer was up and one of the victims information was already being put into the computer by people here in the house."

Not only were credit cards taken but officers say ID's and social security cards were stolen in the various auto thefts. A 47-year-old man was also arrested. The fact that this was taking place in a neighborhood setting as opposed to a commercial area did not surprise investigators.

"Auto theft is kind of ... when you're looking at a stolen and recoveries on a map it's kind of looking at a shotgun pattern. It's all over. They very nature of vehicle theft is very transient in nature because you're dealing with something mobile to begin with."

H.E.A.T officers say Southeast Fresno has been hard hit in the past six months. As for the two suspects arrested -- the woman faces multiple counts of possession of stolen property and possession of stolen vehicles. The man faces possession of stolen vehicle, owning and operating a chop shop and possession of stolen credit cards, checks, and mail.

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