NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Court documents revealed an FBI raid at a home in Sylvan Park last week was tied to a stolen vehicle operation with connections in Michigan.
It happened last Wednesday at a home in the 6000 block of Hill Circle. Agents were seen going in and out of the house and taking various items.
News 2 obtained a criminal complaint from an FBI special agent based in Michigan, which revealed how this started with an investigation into a group of people based in the Detroit and Toledo areas who were suspected to be involved in numerous vehicle thefts, including many that were transported across state lines.
Robert Clinton Thomas is being accused of charges related to transporting and selling stolen vehicles along with mail and wire fraud. The complaint said seven people were indicted on similar charges on August 24, including Ronnie Smith. According to the FBI, Smith’s cell phone revealed conversations with Thomas and Thomas’ phone pinged at the home on Hill Circle in Nashville.
Investigators said the text messages between Thomas and Smith showed Thomas dealing with an auto theft crew in the Nashville area, and that there are several instances of Thomas sending Smith fake ID’s, plates, titles and Vehicle Identification Numbers so that stolen cars can be concealed, transported, and sold. The report stated that Thomas reportedly owns ‘Elite Auto Partners’ but there were no records to substantiate a legitimate business.
The affidavit also mentioned two other Tennessee residents, including one jailed in Williamson County after being arrested in April. It came after Brentwood Police found drugs, guns, cars, counterfeit VINs, and what appeared to be counterfeit temporary tags while executing a search warrant. The FBI agent said text messages showed Smith let Thomas know of his association with these other two Tennessee residents.
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The search last week in Sylvan Park turned up numerous fraudulent items and the tools to make them. Agents also found a Mercedes G-Wagen stolen from California, a Dodge Charger stolen from Arizona, and a Ford Bronco stolen from Wisconsin.
“Based on my training and experience, the presence of all the above listed items at one residence is indicative of Thomas’ running a vehicle chop shop out of his residence where he is able to reregister, retag, retitle, modify and rekey stolen vehicles,” the FBI special agent stated in the affidavit.