Official: Stealing Disabled Cars Can Be 'Lucrative'
Posted February 22, 2008 7:33 p.m. EST
Turkey, N.C. — Detectives arrested a Sampson County man for allegedly stealing disabled cars along highways and selling them for scrap metal, possibly making thousands of dollars, authorities said.
Investigators said Douglas McGee III, of Turkey, used his flatbed truck and trailer to haul away at least a dozen broken-down cars along Interstate 95 and N.C. Highway 24. McGee then sold the cars as scrap metal to salvage yards, including C and R Auto Parts in Turkey, detectives said.
"It's a lucrative business when you consider that maybe you're getting $1,000 per vehicle, and you're pulling five vehicles a day," Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, said.
Detectives believe McGee stole David Felix's 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck from along N.C. 24, just west of I-95, early Monday.
Felix called his wife to pick him up after after a tire went flat, and then his jack broke around 3 a.m., he said. He put a white rag on the truck, but when he returned 10 hours later, the truck was gone.
"Good thing I took out my tools," Felix said. "That's the only thing I salvaged – my tools."
Workers at C and R Auto Parts confirmed that McGee brought vehicles to the salvage yard. Employees said clients must sign their names on a Department of Motor Vehicles form, which allowed authorities to trace McGee to the stolen cars.
People who turn in junk cars often do not have titles, C and R employees said.
McGee could not be reached for comment. His father, Douglas McGee Jr., said his son did not understand what he was doing.
"My son has a mental condition. He doesn't think like you and I do," Douglas McGee Jr. said. "With his mentality, what he thought was right was wrong."
The father said his son was unemployed, could not get a job and needed money.
"He's a good boy, would give you the shirt off his back and the shoes off his feet," Douglas McGee Jr. said.
Douglas McGee Jr. said the charges against his son have been hurting business at his company, McGee's Body Shop in Turkey. He denied that his son ever brought stolen cars to his body shop or used equipment from the business to steal vehicles.
"We're already having people coming by, wanting to know where their car is at," Douglas McGee Jr. said. "All of the cars we have are legitimate. They're from the Highway Patrol, the sheriff's department here in Sampson County, and I can vouch for every car that we have."
The arrest has also stressed his family, Douglas McGee Jr. said. "It's truly been upsetting to all of us," he said.
McGee was released on an $11,000 bond. Authorities expect he will face additional charges, possibly in other counties.