An investigation that began as a routine traffic stop has resulted in the arrests Thursday of two men accused of running a sophisticated chop shop in Pittsburg, according to a California Highway Patrol investigator. The investigation began on July 15 when two officers stopped a vehicle on Vasco Road near Camino Diablo and noticed abnormalities in the vehicle’s identification number, CHP Investigator Michael Moses said. CHP auto theft investigators, an investigator from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and a special agent from the National Insurance Crime Bureau began looking into the case and uncovered what the CHP characterized as “a sophisticated criminal auto theft enterprise.”
On Thursday, CHP investigators served a search warrant at a residence at 1826 Rosa Blanca Drive in Pittsburg and arrested 24-year-old Rudi McKinnie and 43-year-old Brandon Scott, both Pittsburg residents, who were found hiding in a closet, Moses said. Both men were booked into county jail on suspicion of owning or operating a chop shop and possession of stolen vehicles. McKinnie is being held without bail because he allegedly violated his probation. Scott’s bail has been set at $60,000. During the search, officers also found four stolen vehicles, including a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado stolen in Oakland, a 2005 Chevrolet Colbalt stolen in Petaluma, a 2004 Chevrolet Impala stolen in Livermore and a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette stolen in Atlanta. Investigators believe the suspects targeted specific vehicles and used counterfeit documentation to obtain duplicate keys from local dealerships, Moses said.
After the vehicles were stolen, they were disguised with vehicle identification numbers cloned from vehicles registered on the East Coast, Moses said. Detectives are still investigating the case and expect to find more stolen vehicles, he said.
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