Sheriff: Man arrested after dismantling $300K in cars stolen from NC | Crime
Lexington County Sheriff’s Department detectives arrested a Columbia man on charges that the man operated a chop shop on North Main Street in Gaston.
Sheriff James R. Metts said 45-year-old Vernon Edward Gardner is accused of dismantling two Chevrolet Camaros and two Chevrolet Corvettes that were worth a combined total of more than $300,000.
The two Camaros and two Corvettes had been reported stolen from three car dealerships in North Carolina.
Gardner was arrested on arrest warrants on one count of operating a chop shop and four counts of possessing a stolen motor vehicle.
The report said Gardner operated a chop shop at 252 North Main Street, Gaston.
According to Metts, Gardner knowingly stored stolen motor vehicles at the business and dismantled the vehicles in order to make it difficult to identify the vehicles as ones that had been reported stolen.
Detectives executed a search warrant on February 13 at Gardner’s chop shop and found that Gardner possessed four motor vehicles worth a combined total of $320,000 that had been reported stolen from North Carolina car dealerships, Metts said.
Arrest warrants allege that Gardner possessed two 2013 60th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvettes that had been reported stolen from Everette Chevrolet in Hickory, N.C., one 2013 Chevrolet Camaro reported stolen from Randy Marion Chevrolet in Mooresville, N.C., and one 2013 Chevrolet Camaro reported stolen from McKenney Chevrolet in Lowell, N.C., the report stated.
Sheriff’s deputies began investigating the chop shop after Lexington County Fire Service firefighters responded to a call about items being burned in a pit outside the business on North Main Street, Metts said.
Firefighters found that Gardner was burning motor vehicle parts, with a large amount of parts from new motor vehicles arranged in piles near the fire pit. Firefighters reported their findings to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies located two motor vehicle doors near the fire pit, with vehicle identification numbers scratched off of the doors, Metts said.
After officers executed the search warrant at the chop shop, detectives found one Chevrolet Camaro and one Chevrolet Corvette in a work bay at the business and parts for other vehicles scattered throughout the property, which Gardner rented.
Gardner was being held on Thursday, February 21 at the Lexington County Detention Center on bail totaling $375,000.
Under South Carolina, operating a chop shop is a felony that carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, Metts said.
Metts said the case remains under investigation. The sheriff said additional criminal charges might be filed against Gardner by the Sheriff’s Department, other local law enforcement agencies in South Carolina and state and local law enforcement agencies in North Carolina.