SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – Three people have been arrested after authorities discovered an apparent chop shop for stolen vehicles, according to the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.
The Sumter County Sheriff's Office received information from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office about a vehicle stolen from their jurisdiction on Jan. 11 from Lacoochee.
Deputies said investigators learned that the stolen vehicle had later been seen in the 13100 block of CR 727, Tarrytown within Sumter County.
The location was believed to be operating as a chop shop for stolen vehicles, according to the Sheriff's Office. Surveillance of the property uncovered numerous vehicles at that location in various points of disassembly.
Deputies said detectives responded Friday to the address, ultimately finding a stolen Toyota Camry from Pasco County.
Detectives observed the suspects, later identified by the Sheriff's Office as Phillip Dewayne Scott Sr., Phillip Dewayne Scott Jr., and Nichole Marie Scott, working on vehicles in the yard. Deputies said a search warrant was sought for the entire premises.
Detectives observed while executing the search warrant what appeared to be a very meticulous operation; the vehicles were dismantled with particular attention paid to the destruction of identifying parts and property, according to the Sheriff's Office. Detectives observed around the property numerous small fires, each containing automotive components.
Deputies said the stolen vehicle from Pasco County was found upside down on its roof and completely stripped of interior components, including the motor and transmission.
Many of the components from that vehicle had already been removed from the premises, deputies said.
Further inspection of the premises revealed rodent activity in the home, where children were present, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Numerous environmental hazards were present, some of which included an open septic tank, glass and metal shards throughout the entire property, boards with rusted nails and other hidden dangers often associated with the operation of a chop shop, deputies said.
The Department of Children and Families was contacted regarding the well-being of the children at the home, deputies said.
Deputies arrested the trio. Phillip Dewayne Scott Sr. was charged with vehicle theft-grand theft of motor vehicle, larc-petit theft (second-degree, first offense) and two counts of child neglect; Phillip Dewayne Scott Jr. was charged with vehicle theft-grand theft of motor vehicle and possession of marijuana; and Nichole Marie Scott was charged with two counts of child neglect, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Detectives are still investigating and more charges are anticipated, deputies said.