A West Hazleton man received a jail sentence after pleading guilty in Schuylkill County Court to operating a chop shop in a garage of a vacant home in McAdoo.
The plea was entered by Jelly Roque, 23, of 130B Webster Avenue, West Hazleton, who was sentenced by President Judge William E. Baldwin to serve six months to 24 months in a state correctional facility with the sentence to run concurrent imposed by Lehigh County Court.
In his report filed to court, Trooper John A. McGeary, a member of the state police's Bureau of Criminal Investigation-Auto Theft Task Force, stated the operation was conducted in a garage located behind 692-694 South Kennedy Street, McAdoo. The property was owned by Carlos Moldan-Perez, of Hazleton and supposedly rented by Roque.
Trooper McGeary's report stated he began his investigation on Dec. 13, 2010 after a van was stolen Dec. 11 in Freeland, Luzerne County. It was recovered in Rush Township, Schuylkill County, on Dec. 12. The vehicle recovered was filled with vehicle parts from another vehicle.
On Dec. 13, police recovered another vehicle reported stolen in McAdoo on Dec. 12. It was parked on Winters Avenue, West Hazleton, a few blocks from Roque's residents. On Dec. 15, another stolen vehicle was found abandoned along South Fourth Street, Kline Township.
On Feb. 13, there were two reported thefts of Pennsylvania registration plates from Tresckow Borough, near McAdoo. One of the plates was used on a vehicle involved in theft of tires and rims from Bennett Infiniti Store, Allentown.
On March 14, an anonymous tip from a neighbor reported activities at the garage during overnight hours.
The neighbor noticed vehicles were often pulled into the garage and those driving the vehicles were described as Hispanic males. A search warrant was obtained to search the garage.
Found in the garage were two vehicles, which were partially assembled and jacked off the ground. Also located in the garage were various tools, an engine lift and various vehicle parts including a front and rear bumper, a sun roof and numerous lug nuts.
The same day, Roque was arrested in Hazleton and charges were filed.
In his report, McGeary said that making money is the ultimate goal in any stolen trafficking operation and that financial gain is the end that drives the means of this illegal operation.
When a stolen vehicle is dismantled and the parts from it sold, the operation is commonly known as chopping.
A wrecked or salvage vehicle can be legitimately purchased and these stolen parts can be used to rebuild the vehicle.