Soledad man sentenced to felony probation and jail in chop shop case

SOLEDAD (BCN) — A judge sentenced a 37-year-old Soledad man to felony probation and 124 days in the county jail Thursday for operating a chop shop in his hometown, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

Soledad police officers found Martin Rodriguez Hernandez covered in grease and oil and in the process of dismantling a stolen truck at a warehouse on Nestles Road March 20, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said a chop shop is a place where a person alters, destroys, disassembles, or stores a stolen motor vehicle to sell or dispose of the parts or alter, deface or destroy a vehicle identification number.

Prosecutors said the warehouse was locked from the day before, but police found the aluminum paneling to the warehouse peeled back to allow the truck to enter and the truck was parked in the middle of the warehouse when police arrived. Prosecutors also said when police found Hernandez they saw engine parts on the ground and metal tools, a vehicle jack, and bolt cutters near the stolen truck. Prosecutors said the truck was stolen from Salinas March 15.

A call to Hernandez’s public defender Tom O’Keefe was not immediately returned.

Chop shops are fairly common in the county, according to prosecutors. Anyone who has information about a chop shop is encouraged to get in touch with the District Attorney’s Investigator Maribel Torres-Hart at (831) 883-7588 or the District Attorney’s Office fraud hotline at (831) 755-3224. Residents can also call California Highway Patrol Detective Chris Browning at (831) 796-2106.

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