“Chop shops” are a rising problem, where vehicle thieves take their stolen quarry to get broken down into valuable parts that can then be sold off without the risk of pesky license plates and VIN numbers to identify the loot as stolen property. The image of the chop shop is usually a large garage at a house or business property, usually on the outskirts of town, where cars, trucks, or even tow trucks can come and go without attracting too much attention. Sometimes they are even housed in seemingly legitimate auto repair and body shop businesses that are trying to make some extra cash on the side. Like most crimes, and most auto repair businesses, chop shops tend to be a male dominated operation. But one woman in Santa Cruz County broke the mold.
Boulder Creek is a small town in the wooded hills north of Felton and Santa Cruz, in the San Lorenzo Valley. Bear Creek Road runs east of town, into the mountains, winding its way toward the Santa Clara valley and Los Gatos, Campbell, and San Jose. Out in this remote woodland, off a private road called Diane’s Way, Julia Cabibi lives. According to her Facebook page “I’m still around. Just been hiding up on the mountain caretaking my family’s 44 acres”. She once worked at the Boulder Creek Smoke Shoppe, but she wrote “…they laid me off in December. It was really a blessing. I couldn’t be happier. Now my job is with the trees and mountains”. But apparently the trees and mountains did not provide enough of a living for her.
According to Kelly Kent of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department, an anonymous tip led them, along with agents from the Santa Cruz Auto Theft Task Force, up the 8 mile drive from Boulder Creek along Bear Creek Road to Cabibi’s property. There they found a working chop shop, with 13 stolen motorcycles, trucks, and cars, all taken from Santa Cruz, Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. They also found a trailer that had been stolen from a church in Mountain View. Many of the vehicles were in the process of being dismantled and having their VIN numbers removed.
Julia Lynn Cabibi, 31, was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office for possession of stolen vehicles. She also happened to have illegal drugs on the premises, and was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Additionally, a gun and ammunition was located, and as an ex-felon, she is not permitted to carry them – she was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Available records going back to 2005 show Julia Cabibi has been arrested several times, but on substance abuse related charges. In October 2005 she was arrested for driving under the influence. She was charged with a DUI again in February 2007, along with possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia. In June of 2008 she was arrested for marijuana possession, and in August for another controlled substance possession. She was picked up on that charge again in January 2009, along with possession of paraphernalia, narcotics, and a switch blade knife. She apparently failed to show in court, and a warrant was issued on those charges, for which she was arrested in June that year. She had one more DUI arrest in December 2011.
Cabibi was booked into Santa Cruz County jail, with bail set at $5,000. Santa Cruz Sheriff Jim Hart said about the arrest “Due to an alert community member, along with a quick response and cooperative investigation by members of the Sheriff’s Office and the Auto Theft Task Force, a chop shop has been identified and taken out. This is yet another example of how the community and law enforcement can work together to combat crime.”