Man arrested after victims lead investigators to chop shop - KPTV - FOX 12

Man arrested after car theft victims lead investigators to chop shop

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LONGVIEW, WA (KPTV) -

A Longview couple got their stolen car back after leading authorities to a chop shop in Rainier, OR, but not before much of the car was dismantled.

The 1995 Honda Accord was stolen early Sunday morning from behind Brandon Swanson's and Tracy McClellan's home. Surveillance video shows a man opening the unlocked car, somehow starting the vehicle and driving off.

The surveillance video aired on FOX 12 Tuesday night.

Swanson and McClellan say they got phone calls and Facebook messages from people identifying Aaron Boatsman as the man in the video. They arranged to meet him at a convenience store Thursday evening.

"I just wanted to ask him where my car was," said Swanson. "And he admitted really easily, he said he did take my car and said he was the guy in the video. He had no problem admitting that."

Swanson said Boatsman led them to a home on Laurel Beach Road in Rainier, where the Accord sat without tires and missing many of its parts.

Columbia County Sheriff's deputies say the home was a chop shop and the car was being cut into pieces to be sold for scrap metal.

Longview police said Boatsman was arrested on charges of taking a vehicle without permission.

Boatsman has a history of car theft. He was arrested in September 2011 on charges of motor vehicle theft, taking a vehicle without permission and driving while his license was suspended. He served six months in jail and was released this February. On Feb. 28, Boatsman was arrested on charges of motor vehicle theft and possession of burglary tools. He was released from the Cowlitz County Jail on his own recognizance on April 10 and was due back in court to settle the matter next week.

"I hope they finally put him away in prison," said Swanson. "I mean, you're stealing cars left and right. You can't just keep letting people out of jail that keep stealing people's cars."

"This is our only vehicle. We have a 2-year-old son," said McClellan. "He has to get to work, now he's walking to work. It kind of put us in a real bind."

Charges are pending against another man, Christopher Melilo. Investigators are looking for a third suspect in connection with the chop shop, David Joner of Longview.

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