Merced Police Reportedly Discover Auto Theft, Chop Shop Ring

Merced Police Reportedly Discover Auto Theft, Chop Shop Ring
Photos courtesy of Merced PD

“Merced – One adult and one juvenile arrested for a CHOP Shop at four different locations in the Merced Area. Approximately $100,000 worth of vehicles were recovers with an additional $60,000 worth of vehicle components recovered during this investigation.

On Saturday, March 23rd, 2024, officers with the Merced Police Department received information from a victim of a stolen 2018 Chevy Camaro’s location. The victim had received a ping from his car, which had been stolen approximately 1 week prior in the Turlock Area. Officer Crain responded and was able to locate the vehicle in the back yard of a south Merced residence. Crain located several other vehicles that were in various stages of being stripped of their parts and engines.

Officer Crain authored a search warrant for that location. The stolen 2018 Camaro was located, and it was in the early stages of being stripped. A stolen 2019 Chevy Camaro and a 2021 Dodge Charger SRT were located, they were fully stripped of its body parts, motor, transmission, suspension, and all the interior parts. A Chrysler 300 was located with a stolen motor, transmission, dashboard, and center console, installed in it from the stolen 2021 Dodge Charger located on the property. The VIN numbers from the stolen vehicles had either been removed or destroyed.

A 15-year-old male was arrested at the scene and booked into juvenal [sic] hall for multiple charges related to the possession and dismantling of the stolen vehicles, AKA ‘Chop Shop.’

Officer Crain took the lead on this investigation and continued the investigation. The investigation showed the suspects in this case were stealing high end Dodge Chargers and Dodge Challengers with the 392 SRT motor or Hellcat motors and stripping them. They would obtain lower value model Chrysler 300s with V-6 motors and swap the motors, transmissions, dashboards, and center consoles from the stolen SRT V8 6.4-liter Chargers and Challengers, into them. They would then sell the cars on Facebook Marketplace and other online selling apps as 6.4-liter swapped vehicles (SRT motors). They would then sell them at values close to $30,000.

Officer Crain was able to tie 3 more locations to the involvement of this theft ring. Search warrants were authored for two residents in south Merced, and on an address just outside of the city.

During the search warrants, officers located stolen vehicle components that were swapped into a Chrysler 300, the equipment needed to alter and manufacture license plates, multiple keys to high end Chargers and Challengers. 18-year-old Daniel Carreno was arrested regarding the Chop shop activity. At another location officers recovered vehicle components from a stolen 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat out of the Los Angeles area. A stolen motor and transmission out of a 2016 Chevy Suburban out of San Jose. A motor swapped Jeep Grand Cherokee with an altered VIN and improper SRT motor in it.

The investigation is still ongoing for additional involved parties and stolen vehicles. Anyone that may have information about the investigation is encouraged to contact Officer Crain at (209) 388-7754 or by email at”

Originally published by the Merced Police Department
Merced Police Reportedly Discover Auto Theft, Chop Shop Ring was last modified: April 4th, 2024 by admin
Categories: Merced

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