While Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies were searching for a stolen truck, they stumbled across something else — a man they say was operating a chop shop in Greenacres.
They also found his Franken-vehicle, which was compiled from stolen parts.
Deputies said they got a call about a stolen truck from unincorporated West Palm Beach in April and began tracking it down. The truck was equipped with anti-theft software that deputies traced to a home in Greenacres, according to an arrest report.
The truck was at the house of Augusto Perez-Heredia, deputies said, and when they found it, it had been gutted. The truck was missing the bed, seats, doors and the hood, and the cab had been cut into pieces, according to a report.
Perez-Heredia, 31, told deputies he had discussed buying the truck from its owner and had ripped it apart because he wanted extra parts for his truck in case something happened to it. But deputies saw another truck on the lot and became suspicious.
One deputy noticed the truck was a 2004 Ford F-350. But its tailgate, bed and side mirrors were from a 2010 model. It also had features on it — like a backup system camera — that Ford didn't install until 2010.
They took the truck and peeled it back piece by piece, finding that while the frame of the truck matched the vehicle identification number, other pieces did not. When deputies ran the numbers on those parts, they pinged back to vehicles that had been reported as stolen.
In a few of those cases, the stolen vehicles had been recovered missing several parts, according to the report.
The parts ranged from vehicles made between 2004 and 2010, deputies said, and they began tracking down people whose trucks might have been stripped.
On Aug. 1, detectives determined that the frame of Perez-Heredia's truck had been legally purchased from a man in Miami, according to the report. The man told deputies that the truck had no motor.
According to the report, Perez-Heredia provided deputies with some receipts for truck parts, but those did not cover the parts deputies believe were stolen.
Perez-Heredia is charged with operating a chop shop, and was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Wednesday.
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