Warrant search uncovers suspected chop shop in Penn Valley | TheUnion.com

Warrant search uncovers suspected chop shop in Penn Valley

Colby Lawson

Detectives serving a search warrant at a Penn Valley property discovered evidence of a substantial “chop shop” operation, authorities said.

One man was arrested and the investigation is ongoing, said Grass Valley Police Sgt. Clint Bates.

Colby Lawson, 25, was arrested Wednesday on charges of vehicle theft, possessing stolen property, possessing a vehicle with altered VINs, possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, possessing a controlled substance while armed, and owning a chop shop. He remained in custody Friday on a $28,000 bond, jail records state.

Around 8 a.m. Wednesday, Grass Valley police officers served a search warrant for auto theft and a possible chop shop at a property in the 10000 block of Spenceville Road, Bates said.

Four people were contacted at the property, but three were determined to be uninvolved. The fourth, Lawson, was a resident at the property, Bates said.

During the warrant search, officers located two “surgically stripped” Ford pickup trucks with an estimated value of $60,000 to $70,000.

“The entire vehicles had been dismantled,” Bates said. “There was not even a frame left.”

Both of those trucks — a three-fourths ton and a 1 ton — had been reported stolen earlier this month in the Nevada County area, he said, adding that identification was made using parts and license plates found on the property.

A 20-foot custom-made flatbed trailer that had been stolen Nov. 10 from a business on Grass Valley Avenue also was located on the property, Bates said.

Officers found vehicle frames, engines, transmissions, license plates and VIN numbers, he said, with an estimate in excess of $20,000 to $30,000 in Ford parts believed to be have been removed from other stolen vehicles.

They also found a loaded handgun in Lawson’s vehicle and additional firearms on the property, as well as suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, Bates said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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