CHP: two-year investigation shatters chop shop network

Publish Date: 
Dec 19, 2013

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - California Highway Patrol officers have arrested 51 people across Los Angeles County following a two-year investigation that uncovered a chop shop operation and led to seizure of nearly $1 million in stolen motorcycles and parts, authorities said Wednesday.

“We’ve taken down the majority of the main players” within L.A. County’s three main motorcycle theft rings, CHP Southern Division Chief Dan Bower told the Los Angeles Times.

Until now, the CHP had investigated motorcycle thefts through a more narrow scope, said the operation’s lead investigator, Lt. Charlie Sampson.

Once they decided to take a larger view of the thefts, investigators involved in "Operation Wheel Spin" were surprised by "how much was out there on social media," he said. Investigators said the deeper they dug, the more extensive the network turned out to be.

The probe has led to ancillary investigations by authorities in San Diego County and Las Vegas, where bikes were shipped and sold, Bower said.

Authorities have filed more than 100 criminal complaints in California and recovered nearly 140 stolen motorcycles and bike parts worth $848,140, authorities said.

The metal components of a bike are usually sold as scrap, while the plastic bodies are sold on social media sites like Facebook, Craigslist and eBay.

Posted by Holly Wagner