FRESNO – An auto theft task force closed down two separate but nearby chop shops on Wednesday.
The Fresno Police Department’s Career Criminal Auto Theft Team (CCATT) was able to track the two illict operations to an area off of North San Pablo Avenue and Normal Avenue in central Fresno. The two streets are located near Highway 41 and both chop shops were within at least five blocks of each other.
A chop shop is an illict business where stolen vehicles are dismantled and their parts sold.
Police began tracking known car thieves after noticing a sharp rise in auto thefts in 2011, which, according to the department, is up 50 percent from last year.
The first bust occurred at the San Pablo Avenue operation. Police Sgt. Timothy Tietjien of CCATT said the operation was run by a father and son who were caught dismantling a truck in their backyard.
“We were looking for an Andres Segura Jr.,” Tietjien said. “And officers looked in the backyard and we could see Segura Sr. chopping up the vehicle.”
The truck was first reported stolen on Monday. Investigators also discovered parts to at least three different cars in the backyard of the Segura residence.
The second chop shop was a smaller operation located on Normal Avenue. Tietjien confirmed that both operations are not related to each other and the names of the suspects involved at the Normal Avenue residence have not yet been released.
Vehicle thefts and other auto-related crimes were frequent between the months of April and May. As o late May, police had arrested 134 people in auto theft cases, including many who had been apprehended before, said a previous statement from police Chief Jerry Dyer.
Police officials want to inform the public that chop shops can be found anywhere, especially with the rise of auto theft. They are asking the public to report any suspicious activity nearby.