Stolen car leads Trinity Co. authorities to alleged 'chop shop'

David Ducharme (Source: Trinity Police Department)
David Ducharme (Source: Trinity Police Department)

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Trinity County law enforcement officials arrested a 52-year-old auto shop owner for possession of stolen property after a Houston area woman used an electronic tracking device on her car that was found in the Chit area Monday night. A search of the property turned up a possible "chop shop."

David Francis Ducharme, of Trinity, was arrested and charged with one count of possession of stolen property of a vehicle on Monday. Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace said after the woman called his office Monday, Trinity Police Chief Steve Jones went out to a property off of FM 355 in Chita.

"He said we could search his property, which we chose not to after we found more than a second stolen vehicle," Wallace said. "When I asked him if there were any stolen vehicles here, he said yes. The man did indicate to us that some of the parts and engines may be stolen as well."

Acting on that information, the Trinity County Sheriff's Office sought and obtained a search warrant for the property Tuesday morning. The TCSO deputies found multiple vehicles that either had incorrect Vehicle Identification Numbers or no license plates.

Wallace said five vehicles and a combination of stolen parts were found on Tuesday.

While the TCSO deputies were searching the property several private citizens came forward to let them know that Ducharme's auto shop was doing legitimate work on their vehicles.

"If anyone has bought a vehicle from Ducharme, they should come to the sheriff's office to have it checked out," Wallace said. "You may be taking a risk by not having it checked. If you are stopped and it is determined that the vehicle is stolen, you could be arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle."

Wallace said Ducharme is facing several felony charges pending a further investigation. All evidence will be presented to a grand jury.

"The story at this point is that he bought them from somebody down in Houston and hauled them up here himself," Wallace said.

Wallace said he responded to a tip about a possible chop shop at the same location about a year and a half ago, but nothing was found at that time.

"We received a tip that there could be a possible chop shop in our area. Myself and a team of DPS officers, and few other officers from Trinity County came out to this location. Mr. Ducharme allowed us to search the premises with no problems, and we didn't find anything that was out of the ordinary at that time."

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