Police: Lancaster man towed, sold disabled cars for scrap

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Police have announced charges against a Lancaster man who allegedly took disabled vehicles he found along roadways and then sold them for scrap metal.

Francisco Mercado Jr., 36, faces two felony counts each of operating a chop shop and theft by unlawful taking.

Lancaster police said Mercado, an employee of J&J Towing and Auto Repair in Reading, used a company truck to haul off disabled cars and trucks from along Route 30 and Route 222 in Lancaster and Berks counties.

At least 10 vehicles were towed to a salvage yard in Berks County where they were shredded as scrap metal, police said.

Authorities tracked down Mercado in the auto thefts last month when he towed off a decoy vehicle investigators had placed on Route 222, according to police.

Police said they continue to investigate other thefts and the destruction of the vehicles and additional charges are anticipated as the investigation progresses.

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