Three days after being carjacked, the owner of a stolen, white 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass stumbled onto a big discovery.
He spotted his car on the lot of K.B. Auto Repair on West Mitchell Road in South Memphis and called police. When police arrived, the officers uncovered four more stolen cars, and K.B. owner Kenneth Barber was arrested for theft of property and violation of the chop shop law.
According to Lt. Terence Jackson, the task force busted 20 chop shops -- places where stolen cars are disassembled for their parts -- in the last year. While "backyard chop shops" operating out of residential neighborhoods are more common, Jackson says they occasionally find chop shops fronting as retail businesses. -- by Bianca Phillips
Flyer: Before the vehicle's owner noticed his car in the lot, had you heard anything about K.B. Auto Repair?
Jackson: We were totally unfamiliar with K.B.
How long had the stolen cars been missing?
Drewery: The oldest report that I have is a 2000 report.
Jackson: That doesn't necessarily mean the car has been there the whole time. It could have been stolen and outstanding for some time.
Did the operation work like chop shops in the movies?
Drewery: [Barber's] a mechanic too, on the side. So if I take him a vehicle that needs a new transmission, instead of him going out and buying a transmission to put in my car, he will take the transmission out of a stolen vehicle, put it in the car, and then charge me for it. So he makes money off the stolen part.
How much can chop shops make from selling car parts separately?
Drewery: There's a wide range of what they'll charge for a part. He could get $200 for a door. You get anywhere from $200 to $400 for a transmission. A motor you could get anywhere from $200 to $500.
Jackson: Either way, it's going to be below wholesale or retail. Whatever you make is a 100 percent profit.
Was there a trend in make or model of stolen cars at K.B.?Jackson: This was a location that took older cars because of the nature of his clientele. His clientele was basically bringing in older cars that required similar type parts, mostly motors and transmissions.
Will the cars be returned to their owners?
Drewery: They will go back to the registered owners unless insurance companies have paid off on them. Then they'll go back to the insurance companies.