ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Stolen vehicles are a very common problem across the city. Not to mention breaking them down and selling parts.
During an investigation by Albuquerque Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit, detectives uncovered a chop shop in the southeast part of the metro on October 26. At this location, they found several stolen vehicles.
“We know, it’s a current operation. We know it’s a fresh operation, and officers were able to arrest an individual,” said Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina.
The chief of police said detectives tracked a stolen Dodge pickup to a tow yard at 4206 Williams Street. Court records showed detectives saw someone driving the stolen pickup through the fenced-in lot.
At the tow yard, officers said they watched a woman suspect pushing three catalytic converters on a dolly. They alleged the parts had been cut off from separate cars.
“This is one of those cases where this individual was doing this for profit,” said Medina. After more surveillance and a search warrant on November 2, officers discovered more than 100 vehicles in the tow yard, at least 15 of them stolen. “They were able to locate three engines from stolen motor vehicles, and then, they located 12 stolen motor vehicles separate from those three that had some form of being dismantled,” he said.
Medina stated seven of the cars had been reported stolen in the last six weeks. He said this is the first time the department has been able to arrest and charge someone for operating a chop shop under a new law that took effect this year.
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“Labardo Rascon-Olivas was charged with seven counts of receiving transferring stolen motor vehicles, four counts of receiving transferring of stolen property, tampering with evidence,” added Medina.
The chief of police said the investigation is still ongoing, and no other suspects have been arrested in connection to the chop shop at this time. He said he hopes this case serves as a reminder to car thieves that Albuquerque police will find and arrest them.