Three people have been charged with a list of offences after a massive, “highly organized” chop shop was discovered in northeast Edmonton earlier this year.
A total of 159 vehicles were recovered, either in parts or intact, after a search warrant was executed at Car Masters Collision Ltd. in June. Police said 141 of those vehicles were reported stolen.
“We believe this was a highly organized chop shop,” Dwayne Karpo with the EPS Auto Theft Unit said. “This was a complex investigation and the EPS used significant internal and external resources to identify all of the vehicle components.”
Police said there are more than 140 complainants involved in the investigation. The vehicle thefts were reported to Edmonton police, Calgary police and Alberta RCMP.
The estimated value of the vehicles was more than $7 million, police said in a media release Wednesday morning. The most expensive vehicle was a 2012 Dodge 3500 valued at $109,000.
The chop shop was discovered by Edmonton police after officers conducted a traffic stop on Thursday, June 1.
Police pulled over a 2012 Dodge Ram with a flat deck trailer in the area of 121 Avenue and 76 Street. Police said officers discovered the trailer was stolen and the truck had an unauthorized licence plate.
The investigation led police to search Car Masters Collision Ltd. where a number of stolen vehicles and parts were located.
Watch below: Police searched a property in northeast Edmonton in June after they discovered what they called a “chop shop.”
Alexia Dalton’s truck was recovered from the chop shop after a frightening carjacking last September.
Dalton walked away with a clump of hair taken from the thief who stole her truck, and is still amazed by what took place that morning and what happened to her truck afterwards.
The ordeal began when Dalton was pulling out of a north Edmonton Tim Hortons parking lot.
“A lady had pulled in and had sideswiped my rear tail lights,” said Dalton, who then described leaving her 2014 Ford F-150 to talk with the person who hit her vehicle.
Moments later, she heard her truck door slam.
“I turned my back and there was a girl jumping into my vehicle.”
Dalton didn’t simply watch the thief drive off with her truck.
“I ran and jumped in through the driver’s side window. It was a bit of a struggle. She grabbed my hair. I grabbed her head,” Dalton said.
But the thief put the truck in gear and drove off, almost slamming Dalton into a pole. Dalton then let go.
When she stood up, she saw her truck drive away and realized she was holding onto a clump of hair from the thief.
Nine months later, her truck showed up in Edmonton’s biggest ever chop shop bust.
“It’s just crazy,” Dalton said. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that. I can’t believe how organized and orchestrated it all was.”
Watch below: Edmonton police sorted through what officers described as one of the biggest chop shops the city has ever seen. At least $2 million worth of stolen cars and parts were hauled out of a north end lot in the first few days of the investigation. Fletcher Kent reports. (Filed June 8, 2017).
Within the first few days of the investigation, police said it was the largest operation of its kind they had ever seen.
“Everybody in there was overwhelmed with what we had,” Karpo told Global News on June 8. “We’re talking guys who have been investigators for 30 years, dealing with auto theft, and even they were taken back. They’ve never seen anything like this.
“The last few days have been hectic… The scene is huge. By far the largest chop shop that I’ve ever seen.”
Allan McKay, 53, Crystal McKay 35, and Amanda Stepien, 33, have been charged with a number of offences, which include:
- Possession of stolen property over $5,000 (global charge for 142 complainants)
- Possession of stolen property under $5,000
- Possession of property for purposes of trafficking
- Alter or remove VIN
- Fraud over $5,000
- Unauthorized possession of a prohibited device
- Participation in criminal organization