Merced Police bust chop shop ring

The investigation put a 15-year-old behind bars.

The Merced Police Department busted a chop shop, resulting in the arrest of a 15-year-old male and an 18-year-old male. 

Officers recovered around $160,000 in vehicles and parts. 


Driving the news: Merced Police announced that on March 23 officers received information from a victim of a stolen 2018 Chevy Camaro’s location. The vehicle had been stolen around one week earlier in the Turlock area. 

  • Police responded to the information and located the vehicle in the backyard of a home in south Merced. 
  • Police also found several other vehicles that were in various stages of being stripped of their parts and engines. 
  • After executing a search warrant, police found the stolen 2018 Camaro int he early stages of being stripped, as well as a 2019 Chevy Camaro and a 2021 Dodge Charger SRT that were fully stripped of their body parts, motor, transmission, suspension and all interior parts. Police also found a Chrysler 300 with a stolen motor, transmission, dashboard and center console installed in it from the 2021 Dodge Charger. 
  • The VIN numbers on the stolen vehicles had all been removed or destroyed. 

The big picture: Police recovered around $100,000 worth of vehicles and $60,000 worth of parts at four different locations in Merced. 

  • The 15-year-old male was arrested at the first site and booked into juvenile hall for multiple charges related to the possession and dismantling of stolen vehicles. 
  • Police continued to investigate the case and found that the chop shop ring would steal high-end Dodge Chargers and Dodge Challengers with the 392 SRT motor or Hellcat motors and strip them. They would then swap the motors, transmission, dashboards and center consoles from the stolen Chargers and Challengers into Chrysler 300s and sell them on Facebook Marketplace and other sites. 
  • Police found three other locations involved in the chop shop ring – two of them at homes in south Merced and another just outside of city limits. 
  • Police located stolen vehicles parts at the other locations and arrested Daniel Carreno, 18. 
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