DETROIT (WWJ) - A 71-year-old Canadian man is in police custody after a major chop shop operation was busted in Detroit.
Sge. Eren Stephens said a citizen tip led members of the DPD’s Commercial Auto Theft Section to Midland Used Auto Parts on the 10400 block of Lyndon Street, across the street from Adams-Butzel recreation center.
After obtaining a search warrant, investigators went to the business around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, where they found about 100 stolen vehicles. Officers checking vehicle ID numbers against stolen-car reports found cars missing from Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Dearborn, Grand Rapids and beyond.
Officers also found a bulldozer, power shovel, front-loader and a RV, along with several bins of copper and industrial pipes. Police say they seized virtually everything at the business.
After staking out the business, which sits on the 25-acres surrounded by a high fence topped with razor wire, police observed a large truck without a license plate enter the lot. That’s when they arrested the Canadian man, who reportedly has only owned the business since January.
The Ontario man allegedly paid employees to disassemble the cars, then crush their remains before selling the parts online.
Police told WXYZ the man has been investigated for similar corruption charges in his home country. His name was not immediately released.
Sgt. Robert Wellman of the Detroit Police Commercial Auto Theft Section told reporters the man faces a charge of operating a chop shop and numerous counts of receiving and concealing stolen property.
Investigators are calling the situation one of the largest stolen vehicle busts they’ve ever seen. It took as many as 12 tow trucks from three tow truck companies several hours to haul all the vehicles to impound lots.