Stolen vehicle leads deputies to chop shop in Chino Valley

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CHINO VALLEY - The following is a press release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

On November 29, 2008, a Paulden resident contacted the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and reported his Chevrolet truck stolen from his Post Road property. The truck was described as a 2005 extended cab model, three-quarter ton model, valued at $20,000. The victim told deputies he suspected 17-year-old Paulden resident Tyler Sherman, had taken his vehicle. Sherman worked odd jobs around the victim's home and knew where the truck keys were kept. Sherman also was aware of the victim's weekly schedule which included a regular trip to the valley every Saturday. Based on the timeframe reported, Saturday was the most likely day of the theft.

Deputies determined that Sherman was staying with 20-year-old Angel Alvarez at a home on Butternut Road in Paulden. The deputies found no one home, but a neighbor reported seeing Alvarez and Sherman in the victim's truck on the afternoon of the 29th. Additionally, a member of Alvarez' family saw him take the truck from the victim's property, but was told he had permission.

On December 1, 2008, deputies learned Sherman had been arrested in Las Vegas for providing false information to a police officer. The truck had not been located.

Sherman eventually returned from Las Vegas and turned himself in to YCSO on December 5, 2008. He admitted stealing the truck and driving to Vegas with Alvarez and another female, identified as 18-year-old Lindsay Hazelton, from Paulden. Sherman confirmed he had been arrested in Vegas on an unrelated charge and had not been in contact with Alvarez since, nor did he know where the victim's truck was located. Sherman was booked in the Prescott Juvenile Detention Center for Vehicle Theft.

On December 6, 2008, Alvarez was arrested at his home for Unlawful Use of Transportation involving the victim's stolen vehicle. Alvarez claimed he left the vehicle in Vegas and had no idea where it was located. Hazelton, who was already in jail on unrelated charges, was additionally charged with the same offense.

On December 15, 2008, Chino Valley police officers recovered the victim's stripped vehicle in the 700 block of Judy Avenue. Officers followed a vehicle fluid trail to a home in the 1900 block of Jackrabbit Trail. Members of the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force, including YCSO Detective Dave Zavos, were called in to assist. Detective Zavos obtained a search warrant for the home after developing information the victim's truck had been dismantled there. On December 18, 2008, 32-year-old John Stevens was stopped leaving his home and arrested for Theft of Means of Transportation. During a search of his residence, members of the Task Force found the stolen truck's engine, transmission and assorted body parts. Stevens admitted contact with Alvarez who wanted him to "make the truck disappear." Stevens was also charged with Conducting a Chop Shop. It is likely Alvarez had driven the vehicle back to Chino Valley from Vegas.