TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two men on suspicion of running a chop shop operation in the Tampa Bay area, authorities said Tuesday.
The sheriff’s office announced Jose Sardon, 35, and Lazaro Ruiz Ruiz, 52, were arrested as a result of their investigation, which is still ongoing.
Detectives said numerous stolen items had been found in construction sites and storage facilities in the area. Deputies were able to recover a Kubota Skid Steer Loader valued at $100,000 along with 22 appliances, 90 pieces of stolen cabinetry and assorted pre-hung doors.
They said the chop shop operation spanned multiple counties, including Hillsborough, Polk, Hernando, and Sarasota counties.
The sheriff’s office said Sardon was arrested and charged with second-degree grand theft, dealing in stolen property, selling or possessing a vehicle with altered numbers and operating a chop shop. Ruiz was charged with second-degree grand theft during a state of emergency and tampering with physical evidence, according to deputies.
“This operation dismantled not just a chop shop, but a network of criminal activity that spanned multiple counties,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We remain committed to protecting our communities from those who seek to profit from theft.”