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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Police recovered stolen cars and arrested nearly a dozen people during a bust of a suspected auto theft ring in East Oakland on Wednesday.
Neighbors who lived near the warehouse on 36th Avenue told KPIX 5 there were constantly cars without license plates parked all over the block. The cars would be transported behind a gate, where a group of people may have run the alleged chop shop.
Andrew Franco heard the knock from police first. Before he knew it, he and 22 other people who were inside the warehouse were on the ground.
“They put zip ties around my arms and put them around our backs really, really tight,” Franco told KPIX 5.
Franco, who said he works at the warehouse, was released. Eleven other people were arrested and expected to face charges for running an auto theft ring.
Authorities said they found guns, construction equipment, even a large generator being guarded by a pack of pit bulls. “Stolen property, stolen engines, stolen vehicles,” said Officer Sean Wilkenfeld of the California Highway Patrol.
“Cars are coming in people are coming in, animals are coming in,” said neighbor Tony Soldano.
Since December, there have been 85 car thefts within a mile of the warehouse. “This is a known area for vehicle theft, so we’ve definitely had issues here in the past,” Wilkenfeld said.
“It’s about time they get these people out of here,” said Soldano. The neighbor, who lives across the street, doesn’t think the peace will last. He said he has seen authorities raid the place three times over the past three years.
“I’m very suspicious that they’ll be back,” Soldano said. “Every time this happens, more people come through. And if it isn’t the same dude, it’s just another dude who’s coming back here. I don’t know. It just seems like a vicious cycle.”
Officers from several agencies including the California Highway Patrol, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Alameda County Probation Department and Alameda County Animal control took part in the raid.
Authorities had been investigating the place since December. They said all of the items they recovered were stolen from around the Bay Area.