PITTSBURGH The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has busted a second alleged chop shop operation in Ohio in less than six months.
The Cleveland division of the FBI arrested five men and is searching for a sixth for allegedly stealing and dismantling semi-trucks and trailers and selling the metal to a New Castle, Pa., scrapyard.
Mike Deutsch, 37, Gary Wymer Sr., 55, Mike Wymer, 54, Terry Wymer Jr., 28, and Shawn Wymer, 27, are accused of unlawfully transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Robert Debolt, 47.
"These defendants operated a truck and cargo theft ring, stealing in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, which resulted in multimillion-dollar losses," said Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI in northern Ohio.
The alleged chop shop operations took place at two Toledo business addresses as well as at the residence of Mike Wymer. Evidence recovered includes keys, titles, license plates and paperwork from stolen semi-trucks and trailers, ATVs, motorcycles, dump trucks and industrial equipment, according to the FBI.
The FBI began the probe in September 2012 after it was approached by the Ohio State Highway Patrol to investigate the rampant theft of semi-trucks and their cargoes. Authorities believe more than $2 million in thefts occurred between September and December 2012 alone, including the loss of thousands of pounds of aluminum scrap and copper wire.
One heist included a tractor-trailer filled with 41,885 pounds of aluminum scrap being transported from Columbus to New Haven, Ind., while a second theft involved a trailer containing 5,000 pounds of aluminum shavings.
The unidentified New Castle scrapyard is not accused of any wrongdoing.
"This was a highly organized group that stole from people throughout the region. The FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol and all the law enforcement partners involved in this investigation have done a tremendous job shutting down this ring," U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said.
In September, five Ohio men, including a scrapyard owner and auto salvager, were arrested and accused of stealing and scrapping vehicles and other metals, including cargoes of steel (amm.com, Sept. 7).