Sunday, February 15, 2004

Fairfax County police have arrested a 15-year-old boy they say stole more than 30 cars in Northern Virginia.

Police said the teen, who has not been identified, has been charged with grand larceny. They said he is giving police information about many open cases in the county. Police said additional charges may be filed against the teen at a later time.

Investigators are also looking into the possibility that the teen may have been working with adults in a “chop shop” operation. A chop shop is what police call a hidden place where stolen cars are taken to be stripped of thousands of dollars worth of parts.

Police arrested the teen on Wednesday at about 3:25 p.m., when he was caught driving a stolen Honda Civic. An officer noticed the car, which had a loud muffler, on Lees Corner Road near Pennsboro Drive in the Chantilly area.

When a computer search of the car’s registration and license tags revealed that the vehicle had been stolen, the officer tried to stop the Honda on Kincaid Court. However, the driver fled on foot.

The officer called for backup, including a police K-9 team, and a Fairfax County police helicopter searched the area. The teen was caught in a field in the 4200 block of Lees Corner Road.

The teen was taken to the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center. Police said the case remains under investigation.

Car thieves sell stolen parts, such as air bags or engine parts, in the chop shops. Police have said air bags are the most sought-after. The replacement of a passenger-side air bag on a 1999 Honda EX costs about $800 — a 400 percent profit for crooked garage owners.

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