Another chop shop ring busted, 7 arrested in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

An anonymous tip led detectives to a house Angus and Weldon in Central Fresno. Police said after detectives watched the men strip a car; they moved in to make an arrest. Soon after, they found evidence leading them to more cars and more parts.

That house is on Hammond near Chestnut in East Central Fresno. Police found two more stolen cars. In the home's garage they found wheels, engines, seats, and lights.

"I see them take apart cars, I would see car seats and I thought, 'well this isn't just a normal help a friend tune up a car,'" said Laura Garcia, a neighbor. She told Action News Wednesday's bust confirmed suspicions she had for months. "I thought what's going on there, is it an auto shop or a chop shop."

Neighbors thought the same thing about the first home in Central Fresno.

Early Wednesday afternoon police were tipped off about that home. Inside that garage they found a stripped down Honda Civic.

The owner of the stolen Civic asked not to be identified; he showed up to identify his car and its parts at both locations. "I just can't believe this, like wow," he said. "These guys get your car and take everything, what they want and get rid of it as fast as possible."

The victim's car was taken early Wednesday morning. The suspected thieves busted through his Club, a clutch lock and his alarm. "I put so much work into my car, and they just take it like nothing."

"Auto thieves know that the faster they can take a car apart and distribute the parts to different locations, the harder it is for us to make a case," said Fresno Police Lt. Burke Farrah.

A team of undercover officers is working quickly to turn that around. All seven of the men tied to the chop shop ring were arrested by the Career Criminal Auto Theft team.

The team has been in action for nearly a month, making several busts just like this. In that time they say 42 auto theft suspects have been arrested.

Police said some of the men arrested either have gang ties or previous auto theft charges against them. Detectives are hoping to place gang enhancements on several of the alleged crooks, so that they're not released from jail early due to overcrowding.

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