Arrest made in Durham 'chop shop'

Samer Fakhri Othma (Courtesy: Durham Police Dept.)

September 27, 2012 1:09:27 PM PDT
Police have discovered a huge operation involving stolen car parts. They made the discovery after a tracking device on two vehicles led them to a major car theft ring.

Police said it was beacons from a device called a LoJack brought them to a huge warehouse complex in the 700 block of Ellis Road. They found two stolen cars at one warehouse and obtained a search warrant.

Inside the warehouse, they discovered what's known as a chop shop -- a place where stolen cars are brought, torn down and sold for parts. Officials said the parts are much harder to trace than an entire stolen car and can sometimes be sold individually and bring in more than the value of the original vehicle.

One person, 35-year-old Samer Fakhri Othman, was arrested Thursday and charged in connection with the case.

Othman was arrested Thursday morning in Selma, Va. by the Virginia State Police. He was wanted on four counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, four counts of larceny of a motor vehicle and four counts of injury to property. Further charges are pending.

So far, officers have confirmed 24 stolen vehicles from Durham, Wake County and even as far away as Texas and New Jersey. They have also found stolen auto parts from at least 50 vehicles and four wrecker trucks.

North Carolina DMV inspectors and investigators from the National Insurance Crime Bureau have been called in to assist Durham investigators.

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