Scrap Yard Facing Charges Over Stolen Cars

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GRANITE CITY, IL (KTVI) - There is a new development in Thursday's raid of stolen vehicles at a Granite City business.  Police now think charges against someone could come within two weeks.   
Meanwhile the attorney for the owner of the property insists the owner has documentation which proves he had no stolen items on his property.
On the fifth anniversary of the shootings that killed seven at the Kirkwood City Hall, police raided the scrap business owned by the Kirkwood gunman’s brother.  That man, Paul Thornton, says the raid is some sort of retaliation, but police say a car theft ring may have been broken up on Thornton’s property.

The raid on the property at 5567 Dial Drive, north of Granite City began around 3pm.  The Metro East Auto Theft Task Force says it was the culmination of a probe into a series of older car thefts.  Task force Director Gary Brewer says it’s a big case, but not an unusual one.

“Started running surveillance, watching tow vehicles, watching vehicles pulling cars on trailers, developing intel, and it led us to this location.”

He says they were simply executing a warrant, but by phone, Thornton told FOX 2 that he had done nothing wrong, He pointed to the anniversary date of the mass murder carried out by his brother as the motivation for police.

“Maybe they thought I was planning something on the anniversary of Ccookie's death but they got the wrong person.  Somebody gave them some misinformation."     

Police say they weren’t even aware of the anniversary.

“No,” Brewer said.  “I personally don’t know him and I don’t know any anniversary dates.  This all has to do with timing on following and executing a search warrant to find stolen vehicles.”

Brewer says they found “a number of stolen cars” on the Scrap Solutions lot.  Those were seized, along with excavation equipment police say was being used to crush cars.  A stolen eighteen wheeler was confiscated along with another tractor trailer containing car parts and engines.  

Brewer would not say whether or not Thornton is a suspect in any of the thefts.  

Thornton, meanwhile, railed against the way in which police executed the search warrant, which included posting men armed with assault rifles at his front gate for much of the evening.

“For them to come in there like that, the people tell me that they came in there and then drew, with their rifles drawn and all that kind of stuff.  I mean this ain't the way.  If you suspect somebody of having some cars, that ain't right, that's not the way you come in and 20 and 30 officers.”