CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. -- A room inside a garage is empty now, but Monday it was filled with car parts.
- Deputies located stolen vehicles from five counties
- Three stolen vehicles have been returned to owners
- Neighbors say they heard noises coming from the shop at night
The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office says warrants have been issued for Ryan McRee, 41, and 39-year-old Tiffany Brown. Brown is in custody in Catawba County while McRee is still wanted.
Using serial numbers on the parts, deputies were able to match them with three vehicles on the lot and returned them to their owners. They also found stolen parts.
The property owner did not want to go on camera, but says they leased to the property only two months ago and had no idea it was happening. After learning the people were living inside a trailer on the lot, he served them an eviction notice. That same day deputies came knocking, and neighbors weren't surprised.
“You would drive by at night and they would have the doors open you would see the cars inside and you can see them chopping it up,” neighbor Kimberly Jones said.
Deputies say crimes like this aren't so surprising in the mountain counties.
“People have tendency to leave their vehicles unlocked and keys in it thinking it will be safe,” Cpl. Stephen Rant said.
That’s not the case. In Caldwell County, car theft is their biggest crime outside of drugs. More than a two dozen vehicles have been stolen since January.
As for this lot, the investigation is continuing to determine just how many vehicles were stolen and chopped up.