St. Helens police raid 'chop shop'
Police descend on St. Helens residence and force way inside after clues lead to operation
A phone call from a curious neighbor led investigators to a chop shop in St. Helens and the recovery of a stolen vehicle Wednesday afternoon, April 15, according to a St. Helens Police Department press release.
Jason E. Thackery, 36, and Alicia M. Thackery, 35, of St. Helens were arrested and lodged in the Columbia County Jail for several crimes associated with running the alleged chop shop, including unlawful use of a motor vehicle, first-degree theft, first-degree criminal mischief, and possession of methamphetamine.
Two other men, Jeffrey Dean Allen, 28, and William Thornton Bigley, 39, are also being sought by police in connection with these crimes.
Thackery was also the subject of two outstanding warrants from the St. Helens Municipal Court.
On Sunday morning, April 13, police received a report from a Rainier resident that a Honda car was taken from the driveway of his residence on West B Street.
On Monday morning, April 14, St. Helens Police officers responded to a report of suspicious activity, including blue smoke coming from the garage, at 454 S. 9th St., St. Helens.
When officers began to investigate, the homeowner refused the allow them inside.
On Wednesday morning, April 16, a man contacted St. Helens police and reported he was going to haul scrap metal, including car parts, away from the 9th Street residence. The man, who is not identified in the release, was concerned that a vehicle identification number, or VIN, on one of the scrap body panels was obliterated, according to the release.
Officers inquired further and determined this was the stolen car from Rainier, and that the blue smoke observed just two days earlier was caused by the literal chopping of the car into pieces.
Officers returned to the residence with a search warrant later that afternoon and forced their way inside. They discovered the engine, seats and many other pieces from the stolen Honda.
St. Helens Police Department Chief Terry Moss said it is unknown how long the chop shop had been in operation.
It was unknown to us, Moss said, and it wasnt until this gentleman came to us with this scrap metal and the suspicious VIN number and said, I dont like the way this feels, that the police became aware of the alleged chop shop.
Officers also learned there were other suspects involved who were keeping some of the car parts at 2514 Columbia Blvd., St. Helens. Officers went to the residence and recovered the taillights and other parts that belonged to the interior of the stolen car, according to the release.
It suggests there is more to this story, Moss said.
During the course of their investigation, officers identified Allen and Bigley as suspects for being involved in the operation.
While these suspects have ties to the St. Helens area, their current whereabouts are unknown. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the St. Helens Police Department at 503-397-1521.
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