Authorities in Houston, Texas have dealt a big blow to the car theft trade after they took down a chop shop they claim contained almost $500,000 in cars. It happened at a shop called Stampede Diesel with multiple law enforcement agencies descending on the business to make the bust.
That $500,000 estimated value in cars might sound like a lot, but these were all performance vehicles and we’re in 2024, so it only take a handful to reach a total like that. Still, the bust was impressive and it’s possible quite a few vehicles got chopped up, the parts transported and sold elsewhere. Among those rescued most notably is a Corvette investigators say is worth $170,000.
Other cars recovered in one piece included Dodge Chargers and a Cadillac Escalade. In other words, just the kind of vehicles one would expect at a chop shop. Authorities also arrested 25 people they believe are all part of a pretty large auto theft ring.
Among those arrested was 25-year-old Landon Wayne Swonke, who’s apparently listed as the owner of the shop. How many kids that age do you know who own a nice repair shop like that? He was able to get out of jail on a $25,000 bond, but he’s not out of hot water yet.
It sounds like this business was something out of the Grand Theft Auto video games. Investigators believe car thieves would just drive stolen rides to the shop, drop them off like they were getting repaired, then get paid for their effort.
If you live in the Houston area and had a performance car taken in the past while, there’s a chance it was taken to this shop. We don’t know if investigators will be able to uncover all the stolen rides delivered since criminals usually don’t keep meticulous records for a reason. But this hopefully will slow down rampant theft in Houston, at least a little.
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