ENGLEWOOD — Police found a stolen boat and remnants of five stolen truck trailers after searching an Englewood scrap yard early Friday, authorities said.
Police executed a search warrant at Englewood Used Auto Parts, 620 West 59th Street, after arresting a North Lawndale man for stealing a truck trailer and leading police on a car chase early Thursday.
Commander Eugene Roy, who heads the Central Investigations Division, which includes major auto thefts, said police believe the man was attempting to bring the stolen trailer to the Englewood business to scrap it for cash.
Roy said scrap metal can go for as much as $250 per ton. He said the stolen trailers police found in the scrap yard probably weighed between five and seven tons.
This is at least the second time in less than a month police have arrested people trying to scrap large, stolen vehicles for cash, something Roy said is "rare."
"What we're seeing is people are stealing vehicles for the value of the scrap metal and not necessary the value of the vehicle," Roy said, standing by one trailer that had been cut in half. "We're seeing a difference in the way that stolen vehicles are being handled."
Roy said it is still unclear whether the owners of the scrap yard knew the trailers and boat were stolen, but one detective on the scene said the owners were not involved.
A man who answered the phone at the business said the owners "don't know nothing about" the stolen trailers and refused to answer any other questions.
Roy said scrapping entire vehicles is a departure from car and truck thieves have typically done in the past. He said usually, they will sell the individual parts of the vehicle or use a new vehicle identification number to conceal it is stolen.
But Roy said there has always been demand for trailers because the metal content is valuable. He also said scrapping vehicles can be done very quickly, in about 15 or 20 minutes.
Police said the North Lawndale man who led them to the Englewood scrap yard is currently facing felony charges for stealing the trailer.
Police said they spotted Eddie Watson, 46, driving a cab with the stolen trailer hitched to the back early Thursday morning. Watson fled when cops tried to pull the car over, leading police on a police chase on the West Side. Police said Watson crashed into a lightpole and a viaduct before pulling the car over near West 13th Street and South Avers Avenue. He was arrested after trying to run away from the car.
Watson appeared in bond court Friday where he was ordered held on $100,000 bond. Prosecutors said he told police he was planning on taking the trailer to the Englewood scrap yard.