Noises in the night awoke neighbors, attracted police to alleged Gig Harbor chop shop

Vehicles and other items litter this property on Chapman Drive NW in Gig Harbor which police say was being used as a chop shop.
Vehicles and other items litter this property on Chapman Drive NW in Gig Harbor which police say was being used as a chop shop. Courtesy

The grinding noises through the night, the garbage cans full of scrap metal and the cars being towed in and out drew police to the Gig Harbor property.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies heard in June that several chopped vehicles had been found near the home in the 9700 block of Chapman Drive Northwest.

Then the neighbors began reporting the sounds of welders, grinders, hammers and saws keeping them up at night.

Trailers moved cars of all kinds on and off the property, and scraps from vehicles piled up in the trash bin.

The department, working with Gig Harbor police, launched an undercover investigation and set up a surveillance camera to keep an eye on the property.

Detectives found that the 39-year-old owner of the property was trying to sell car parts online and that 12 vehicles had been stolen or recovered within a mile of the property in the last year.

One was a Honda found dumped and set afire along a nearby road. Another was an El Camino stripped of its engine and dumped at an intersection.

Gig Harbor police pulled the man over Aug. 1 and spotted two stolen license plates inside his truck. It was enough to get a warrant to search the property.

When the SWAT team and Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force went to the property, nobody was home.

They found a marijuana grow in an outbuilding and more than 11 pounds of packaged pot, records say. Methamphetamine was found in a bedroom.

At least 15 cars, motorcycles and trailers had been stolen and were stripped on the property, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

That included a 1966 Cadillac stolen from Parkland, a 2006 Acura TSX taken from Federal Way and a 1990 flatbed utility trailer stolen from Waller.

Engines, generators, tow dollies, utility trailers, bicycle parts and truck parts were also discovered in the shop.

Prosecutors have charged the man with four counts of unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $25,000 bail. The man posted bail Aug. 9 and was released from jail.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653