Three people are behind bars after being accused of buying and selling millions in stolen auto parts in McLennan County. Authorities have recovered 17 stolen vehicles and more than 2000 phony documents.

Lance Thomas has owns BYOT Auto Parts in Elm Mott for more than ten years. Hes upset after hearing an auto salvage dealer failing to report car sales to metal recyclers in the county.

“It’s not something that we appreciate is going on, but it is something that we deal with on a daily basis,” Thomas said. “It affects our business locally, it affects our industry throughout because there is a cost of doing business.”

Back in March, the Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force found out someone was using an expired salvage license to hire up to 10 people to sell stolen and abandoned cars and parts in Waco. 

“These things make our costs go up, you know having to pay more for inventory, the inventory that we need,” Thomas said. “These individuals that do this on the side, can do it much cheaper than we can.”

Authorities say the three people arrested made 3 million dollars in the scheme. 

“If someone sells a vehicle that is not properly transferred and someone else gets that vehicle running and uses their license plates or whatever to drive through TxDOT’s or someone commits a crime with that vehicle, it definitely could come back to haunt that person,” Thomas said.

Thomas says this has been an issue for his industry for years, but is glad something is finally being done.

“We are thankful that the state is working on these issues,” Thomas said. “It definitely helps to create a better industry for the auto-recycling industry.”

Additionally, the investigation also uncovered a scheme where a used car dealer in Waco sold forged temporary registration tags that were then used on tow trucks to facilitate the acquisition of stolen or abandoned vehicles within an area stretching from Dallas to Waco.

To date there have been three arrests with charges for Aggregated Theft filed with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office.

Agencies involved in the investigation are: Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force Investigators from Burnet, Coryell and Limestone Counties; the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) Agent for the Waco area; Texas Department of Public Safety Investigators; McLennan County Sheriff’s Office; Waco Police Department; Falls County Sheriff’s Office; Marlin Police Department; and the Department of Motor Vehicles for the Waco and Austin regions.

The investigation is ongoing.

Source: Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force