Towing, auto parts firms raided, 2 arrested in Cherry Hill probe Police say vehicles stolen, stripped, sold for scrap

August 10, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

City and county police raided a towing company and an auto parts shop in Cherry Hill yesterday morning and arrested the companies' manager and an employee on car theft charges.

All American Towing at 2924 Waterview Ave., and Depauls Auto Parts at 1708 Cherry Hill Road routinely received stolen cars, stripped the parts and sold the remaining metal for scrap, according to police and court documents.

In a handful of cases, towing company employees stole cars off streets or from parking lots, police said. And on the morning of May 28, the manager and an employee stole a 45-foot flat-bed trailer parked near the intersection of Annapolis Road and Monroe Street, police said.

They sold the 17 crushed cars on the trailer to United Iron & Metal in Southwest Baltimore, which paid $1,700 for the scrap metal, company records show. In all, United Iron & Metal employees had taken crushed cars to United Iron & Metal 69 times since Jan. 1, police said.

Police identified the manager as Frank Walls and the employee as Ronnie Schaefer. They did not give ages or residences. Both were being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center late yesterday, police said.

"I'm not sure where the investigation is going to go from here," said Southern District Police Lt. Barry Baker. "This could be the end, or it could be the beginning."

Baker said there could be additional charges as police sort through car parts found at the scene. Yesterday afternoon, police were sorting through 10 motors at Depauls. Serial numbers appeared to have been removed from them.

"I'm shocked to hear this was going on," said James Rowe, 26, who has worked for All American for three years. "I saw nothing like that, and it surprises me that individuals I worked with might have been involved."

Efforts to reach Charles Robert Walls, who is listed as the owner of both businesses, were unsuccessful. Walls is the uncle of Frank Walls, All American employees said.

Police began an investigation of the two businesses in May after a Baltimore man complained that his car, stolen in March, had turned up at All American Towing two months later.

Officers say the towing company often waited two months to inform drivers that their cars were on the lot. For each day the car sat, the towing fee increased by $8.

Neither All American nor Depauls reported cars they knew were stolen to the Motor Vehicle Administration, records show. The company also charged car owners $250 for a title search on a car; such a search typically costs $10 at the MVA, officials said.

Pub Date: 8/10/96

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