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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Arrest made in car-theft probe

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 26-year-old man was charged yesterday in connection with a "chop shop" that police said he was operating out of his Kapolei home.

Justin P. Miner was charged with one count of auto theft. Police said he faces other charges, including detaining stolen property, burglary and theft from automobiles. He remained in police custody last night.

Detectives from the auto theft detail and members of the Wai'anae crime reduction unit executed a search warrant at Miner's Leiole Street home yesterday morning. Capt. Frank Fujii, police spokesman, said Miner was the subject of an auto theft investigation for more than a month.

Once in the home police recovered a variety of items which Fujii said were stolen from cars and during burglaries. He said the value of the property is estimated to be in the "thousands of dollars."

Last night, some of the items seized in the raid were put on display and filled a conference room at the police station. Police also confiscated a car that was at Miner's home during the raid.

The items included license plates, musical instruments, car parts, a computer, ammunition, tools, drug paraphernalia, cell phones and a replica sheriff's badge. Also on display were military uniforms and body armor.

"If you just take a look at it you can say that this is quite a substantial amount of stolen items that were recovered," Fujii said.

Miner is believed to be the main suspect in this case, but Fujii said others may have been involved.

"For someone to be solely responsible for the theft of this amount of property, I think would be pretty difficult. It would be safe to say that he has associates," Fujii said.

No one else had been arrested in this case as of yesterday, he said.

Fujii urged residents to be on the lookout for suspicious activities that could be signs of a chop shop. Some of the obvious signs are abandoned cars, cars being stripped and drug activity, he said.

Fujii said neighbors helped lead investigators to Miner.

"Aside from the fact that police were looking at Justin as a suspect in numerous auto thefts, neighbors were calling to report suspicious activity and that, along with stuff that we knew, allowed us to execute this search warrant," Fujii said.

Anyone with information on a suspected illegal operation should call 911 or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.