Two men are in custody after a tip about a stolen big rig led authorities to a chop shop operation near Kerman on Wednesday, the California Highway Patrol said.
Officer Johnny Fisher said the CHP received a call from a man who witnessed the stolen big rig being driven near Kerman. When the multi-agency Central Valley HEAT auto theft team was alerted, the witness guided the team to Outlaw Trailers, at 12847 W. Central Ave., outside of Kerman.
Officers located the owner of the shop, Peter Ramirez, 30, from Kerman, and Daniel Vargas, 23, from Mendota.
Vargas was identified as the driver of the big rig, and was arrested along with Ramirez, who was responsible for the chop shop operation, Fisher said.
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Officers found evidence of a 2006 Chevy pickup in the process of being stripped of its parts. Other “unidentifiable” items were also found, Fisher said.
The stolen big rig belongs to Richard lest Dairy from Madera. A 2006 Freightliner trailer was also stolen on May 1 with the big rig tractor but was dumped outside Mendota after it was stripped of its chrome and wheels, Fisher said.
The witness reported the big rig missing its exhaust pipe as it drove past him. Fisher said the witness told CHP he heard a radio report about the stolen big rig on Tuesday and came across it Wednesday afternoon.
“The witness is literally kind of a hero in getting all these people’s property back,” Fisher said.