EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI) – East St. Louis investigators raided a chop shop on Thursday, located in a residential backyard. The illegal operation had been going on for at least five years. FOX 2 captured exclusive video as the scrapyard was cleared, bit by bit.
A chain dragging an engine onto a flatbed isn’t what you’d expect to see in a residential backyard. Then again, neither is the front half of a truck, or a car door poking up through the weeds.
The hidden scrapyard was discovered after someone complained about engines lying in front of the North 69th Street home.
East St. Louis Regulatory Affairs Director Robert Betts says, “We came out, and just had a hunch to look in the yard, and this is what run upon.”
That was Wednesday, around noon. Police removed five stolen cars, and property owner Jessie Mosley was taken into custody. He’ll likely be charged with unlawful possession of stolen vehicles.
On Thursday afternoon, investigators went back for the rest. Betts says, “We’ve got everything from an RV camper to a pickup truck, to an SUV, to a BMW, to an Impala.” There’s even a dune buggy, and an old city vehicle. As far as illegal scrapyards go, Betts says this one is significant: “This is above and beyond what’s a legal operation for a home business.”
Investigators are now looking into where these cars came from, and where the parts ended up.
“A door might cost you $400 to $500, a transmission may cost you $1,000, so car parts get expensive. It’s a lucrative business,” Betts explains.
As they clear out this chop shop, he says their work is just beginning: “There are other operations that we’re aware of in East St. Louis, that are operating illegally so to speak, and we intend to address those as well.”
The East St. Louis Auto Theft Task Force is still investigating the extent of this operation, and who else is involved. They expect to make additional arrests.