Vernon Edward Gardner (Image: Lexington County Detention Center)
Lexington County, SC (WLTX) - Lexington County deputies arrested a man they say operated a chop shop in the county.
Oficers say 45-year-old Vernon Edward Gardner has been charged with one count of operating a chop shop and four counts of possessing a stolen motor vehicle.
Deputies say Gardner ran the chop shop at a business on North Main Street in Gaston.
According to investigators, they were tipped off to the operation when firefighters went to North Main Street after people reported seeing items being burned in a pit outside Gardner's shop. Firefighters told officers they found car parts in the pit, and many of them appeared to be from new vehicles.
When deputies went to the business, they say they found two car doors near the fire pit that had their vehicle identification numbers scratched off. They say as they searched the property, they found a Chevrolet Camaro and a Chevrolet Corvette in the work bay of the store, and other car parts scattered throughout the place.
According to investigators, there were Corvettes and Camaros worth a total of $320,000 in the place. Detectives say the cars were stolen from car dealerships in North Carolina.
The investigation continues, and deputies say more charges could be coming.