It’s always exciting when the LoJack® system assists police in locating a stolen vehicle. Sometimes, another car truck, van or motorcycle is located as well, which is even better. In this case, deputies from Polk County, FL hit the jackpot when, while retrieving a Ford F-250 pickup, they also uncovered a chop shop with 32 additional stolen vehicles, numerous vehicle parts, and an illegal internet part selling business.
On May 10th, 2013, the F-250’s owner contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to report that their vehicle was stolen from their residence. Officers verified the theft and entered the vehicle information into the state and federal crime computers. This automatically activated the LoJack device concealed in the Ford, which was installed at Brandon Ford in Tampa, FL.
A short while later, deputies from Polk County Sheriff’s Office picked up the homing signals from the stolen truck on the LoJack tracking computers installed in their patrol vehicles. The deputies tracked the F-250 to a property on Turner Road in Mulberry, FL. The Ford was there, the VIN was removed and it was being prepared for repainting. Detectives interviewed the owner of the property, who was arrested. He offered information about a second property, also in Mulberry, where deputies recovered over 32 stolen vehicles including stolen U-Hauls, trucks, cargo trailers, F-250s, F-350s, F-550s, a tow truck, a Caterpillar Backhoe, horse trailers, miscellaneous vehicles and pickups, vehicle components (engines, transmissions, doors, tailgates), and trailers. The vehicles were reported stolen to Polk County SO, Lakeland PD, Bartow PD, Plant City PD, and Hillsborough County SO. Deputies located parts of vehicles scattered across the 10 acre property. Many of the vehicles were stripped, chopped, and buried. It was determined that the property owner was selling the parts on the internet. A total of four individuals were arrested. The Ford F-250, which was recovered in less than two hours after activation, was soon returned to its very grateful owner.
For more information and photos, please visit the Tampa Tribune.