Aiken car thief caught red-handed selling stolen vehicles for scrap

Scrap metal cars

Laws have gotten stricter for selling metals like copper, but some say the laws for selling cars for scrap aren't strict enough. (WRDW-TV / June 27, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o' clock / Wednesday, June 27, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Usually deputies have to do a little foot work to catch a criminal, but this time, the criminal came to them.

A thief in Aiken stole a car, then sold it for scrap metal. He was trying to sell a second stolen car, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The crook pulled a tow truck with another stolen car into Coastal Recycling just as deputies were investigating the first stolen car.

"I guess it's like dumb crook news," said Cpt. Troy Elwell with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. "Evidently it was getting too good for him, and he just couldn't quit what he was doing, and ultimately, it led to him getting caught."

Detron Gomillion, 24, is now behind bars. He is charged with two counts of larceny after investigators say he tried to sell stolen cars for scrap metal, which is a growing problem for law enforcement.

"People don't want to come by this stuff honest, you know?" said Kim Williams, who scraps metal to help make ends meet. "Like, they're stealing copper, they're stealing automobiles, and it's hard for an honest person to even make a living."

She says the crooks are making it harder for the "average Joes" who sell scrap metal because the laws are getting increasingly more strict.

Since scrap metal is sold by the pound, stolen cars bring in a lot of money.

"Usually a scrap car can bring anywhere between $350 and $700. Some can be more," said Jared Friar, who works at Graves Auto Salvage in Aiken.

Laws have gotten stricter for selling metals like copper, but some say the laws for selling cars for scrap aren't strict enough.

"South Carolina law says anything 11 or 12 years old does not have to have a title. It just has to have a signed bill of sale in order for it to be scrapped," Friar said.

Williams says, "A bill of sale, that's nothing. Anybody can write a bill of sale."

Friar agrees, saying, "We've always thought that was kind of a joke, that somebody could take a car that was 11, 12 years old, 15 years old, and it could get crushed, and there's no repercussions, there's no title, no anything saying that they did own that vehicle."

Graves Auto Salvage has created stricter rules for selling cars.

"We require they have a title, sign a bill of sale and that the bill of sale has on it saying that there are no liens, because somebody can get a duplicate title," Friar said.

Georgia's laws are similar to South Carolina's, but a new law will go into effect at the beginning of July in Georgia. The law will make it more difficult to scrap stolen cars. The seller will be have to show more identification and instead of cash, the seller will be issued a check.


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