POLK COUNTY -- A Tampa Bay area victim recognized his own stolen car parts online, leading investigators in Polk County to find a major chop shop operation in Mulberry.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, a man in Pasco County reached out to deputies after he found parts of his stolen Ford F-350 pickup truck for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
After tipping off deputies, the Pasco County man arranged a meeting with the seller on Willis Road in Mulberry. Deputies then launched an investigation at the meetup spot and spoke with the seller, who told deputies on scene he purchased the stolen truck parts from another person he met through Facebook Marketplace named Gary Williams.
Deputies later identified Williams, 36, as a suspect who was previously arrested by deputies in 2013 for running a chop shop at his grandmother's property in Mulberry. He was convicted in that case and spent four years in state prison, according to deputies.
On February 25, Polk deputies obtained and search warrant and recovered the following*:
• Parts from the original Pasco County victim's stolen Ford F350 truck
• The Pasco victim's original sales receipt from Luxury Auto Mall from when he purchased the truck
• Stolen Ford F150 truck from a September 2019 PCSO case
• Stolen Ford F250 truck from a February 20th, 2020, Lake Wales P.D. case
• Stolen flatbed cargo dump trailer from an April 2019 HCSO case
• Paperwork which appeared to be downloaded from the internet showing how to create unique pin stamping similar to what is used by vehicle manufacturers in the creation of stamped VIN, engine and transmission identification numbers
• Box containing multiple vehicle key fobs and software to encode them to vehicles as well as OBD reader equipment for accessing computerized log and identification information stored in vehicle onboard computers
• Two AR15 rifles
* = list of recovered items from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies had to look high and very, very low to find dozens of stolen trucks. Investigators tell ABC Action News they had to dig deep to find the crumpled, chopped and mangled hunks of metal, all of which used to be Ford trucks taken from all across the Tampa Bay area.
Investigators say Williams brought a buddy along for the ride. Deputies say 30-year-old Joshua Bellamy is also accused of running the operation.
During investigations, deputies found a Ford pickup truck belonging to him. Inside the truck, deputies found two firearms and two baggies of cocaine and crack cocaine. They also found a VIN plate from a stolen Ford King Ranch pickup truck. At the time of his arrest, Bellamy was on probation for selling cocaine, deputies said.
Deputies charged Williams with dealing in stolen property, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, 10 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, conspiracy to commit grand theft of a motor vehicle, own/operate/conduct chop shop, dumping/littering exceeding 500 pounds, pollution, operating unpermitted landfill, burning tires, waste tire violation, possession/sale of motor vehicle with altered VIN and 21 counts of violation of probation.
Bellamy was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia, 10 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, conspiracy to commit grand theft of a motor vehicle, own/operate/conduct chop shop, possession/sale of motor vehicle with altered VIN and four counts of violation of probation.