Chop shop dismantled

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Sundre RCMP discovered a small-scale ëchop shop’ in the James River area recently and charged one man with a variety of offences related to it.

Four stolen vehicles were recovered from the Mountain View County property north of Sundre where police executed a search warrant on Sept. 15.

Two of the vehicles — a Dodge truck stolen from Calgary in the fall of 2016 and a truck stolen from Sylvan Lake last month ñ were in varying degrees of disassembly, said Sundre RCMP Cpl. Joe Mandel.

“This was a small-scale operation,” he said.

Stolen vehicles are often brought to a location and stripped down so the parts can be sold “and the vehicle disappears,” Mandel said.

An officer happened upon the illegal operation while conducting a welfare check on a 34-year-old man at his Mountain View County residence on Sept. 14, said Mandel.

“The officer dealt with the individual before,” he said, adding the welfare check was officer initiated.

While on the property, he said police saw a vehicle matching a truck that had been reported stolen from Sundre on Sept. 11.

According to police, the personal vehicle had been parked at its owner’s workplace in Sundre when it was stolen.

While police secured the Mountain View County property as a search warrant was sought, Mandel said the property owner came home.

The 34-year-old man was allegedly in possession of a Ford F150 truck that was reported stolen from the James River Bridge area on Sept. 8.

Mandel said the intact truck was used for work but was not a company truck and was taken sometime between Sept. 7 and 8.

The suspect was arrested and transported to the detachment where he was charged with 13 Criminal Code and two provincial offences.

Lloyd George Hicks faces five charges of tampering with a vehicle identification number, four charges of possession of stolen property under $5,000, a single count of possession of stolen property over $5,000, three mischief charges, and charges of operating a motor vehicle on a highway without insurance and improper use of a licence plate.

Hicks was remanded into custody and made his first court appearance Sept. 18. He was released from custody and had another court appearance set for Sept. 23.

Mandel said the investigation, property recovery and arrest was a large undertaking and acknowledged the work of detachment members and support staff.

“Your Sundre officers worked 14- to 18-hour days on a few hours sleep to get the job done. One member worked on his day off, which was also his wedding anniversary, to assist in this investigation,” Mandel stated. “I know that we can’t please everyone, but I hope that Sundre and its surrounding communities acknowledge that your RCMP members and their families are dedicated to keeping our communities safe and actively seek those responsible that victimize Sundre and its surrounding communities.”

He said it’s likely there are more chop shops around and residents should be aware of suspicious activity such as vehicles going into a property but never coming out.

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Lea Smaldon

Lea Smaldon joined Mountain View Publishing as managing editor in 2006.