Deputies find car and boat parts, pickup, in ‘chop shop’ case

After Tuesday’s arrest of William Randall Nichols, owner of Ryde Tyme Auto Sales at 13630 SE County Road 25, detectives obtained a warrant to search the 54-year-old’s business.

They searched it for two days and recovered several items, including a boat trailer and several parts reported stolen to the Holly Hill Police Department from a 2007 Hydra-Sport 3300 Vector Express fishing boat. Authorities found the boat, valued at $210,200, floating in a Lake County lake, stripped of many parts.

Also found on Nichols’ property, investigators say, were several parts from a 2008 Starcraft boat, valued at $40,000, including its roof, seat, cushions and console. Investigators said the boat been reported to the Levy County Sheriff’s Office as stolen and also was found submerged in a Lake County lake.

“Chop shop” is a term for an operation in which stolen vehicles are dismantled so their parts can be sold.

Also in the investigation, Deputy David Woolf and Corrections Officer Pablo Martinez reported traveling in the Lake Weir Shores area and noticing a silver Dodge pickup parked at the northeast corner of 10315 SE 148th Place, in a way suggesting the driver was trying to hide.

The man in the driver’s seat, Earl Abbey, told them he did not live at the residence, according to Sheriff’s Office reports. Authorities asked for the vehicle’s registration and Abbey told them he did not have one. He told them he did not have the vehicle’s registration because the pickup belongs to Ryde Tyme Auto Sales. The truck, he said, was a loaner from the business because the vehicle he purchased from the lot needs repairs.

Checking the registration, officials discovered the pickup was reported stolen from Winfield, Ala. Deputies seized the truck, and found a loaded .22-caliber handgun on the passenger’s seat. Abbey was taken into custody and faces several charges, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Deputies placed Nichols under arrest on Tuesday after officers with Marion County Code Enforcement and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles inspected Ryde Tyme and found a pickup truck and two trailers that had been reported stolen. He was charged with grand theft auto; dismantling, destruction and change of motor vehicle identity; as well as possession of methamphetamine.

On Friday morning, Nichols stood outside the makeshift courtroom at the Marion County Jail after his first appearance and called the case “a misunderstanding.”

Nichols said a man, whom he would not name, was working at his business selling cars. He said after a disagreement between them, the man left and took at least four titles that belong to various vehicles. He claims to have recovered two of the titles.

“The only thing I’m guilty of is mismanaging my employees,” said Nichols, who was arrested both on Tuesday and Thursday by Detective Thomas Tingue and Woolf.

Tingue said Friday that a golf course was burglarized several months ago and multiple tools were taken. Most of the tools were found on Nichols’ property, the detective said.

As for the boat console, Nichols said it belongs to his son, and he and his son had purchased it from a man. He said a Levy County official has visited him, but Nichols did not say if he will be charged there.

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One Response
  1. Wow! This is very good stuff thanks.

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