Stolen Autos Traced to Ridgeway

A Ridgeway man was arrested and two stolen cars recovered earlier this month in a suspected auto theft ring that stretches from the Upstate to the Midlands.

Investigators with the City of Spartanburg Police Department utilized the GPS unit in a stolen Ford Crown Victoria, worth $3,000, to track the vehicle to a residence in the 300 block of Bishop Squirewell Road in Ridgeway Sept. 7. Fairfield County Sheriff’s investigators were dispatched to the home just before noon and, while they did, indeed, find a Crown Vic up on blocks in the front yard of the home, it was not the Crown Vic they were looking for.

After running the vehicle’s VIN number, however, investigators were able to determine that this Crown Vic, worth $4,000 and which had only just received a fresh coat of red paint, had also been reported as stolen out of Spartanburg. Eugene McClurkin, 62, of 343 Bishop Squirewell Road, told investigators the Crown Vic they were looking for had been driven away from the home just before the Sheriff’s Office arrived.

McClurkin would not, however, tell investigators who had driven away in the Crown Vic or who had dropped off the freshly painted Crown Vic in his yard. McClurkin was subsequently arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.

Just after 4 p.m., investigators received a call from a woman living in the 4000 block of Highway 21 S. in Ridgeway who stated someone had cut a cable blocking access to a driveway to a wooded area near her home. On the property, located approximately 8 miles from the Bishop Squirewell Road residence, the woman said she had found a car sitting up on concrete blocks. Upon arrival, investigators were able to determine that the car was the stolen Crown Victoria about which they had originally received the call earlier that day.

The Sheriff’s Office said Spartanburg Police suspect the cars are being hauled to a shop in Elgin and being mechanically altered – or “chopped.” Ridgeway does not appear to be a base of operations for the auto theft ring, but merely a stopover in this specific case.