ST. MATTHEWS, SC (WIS) - A father and son suspected of running a multi-county car theft ring are behind bars in Calhoun County. The pair are suspected of stealing 60 cars along I-26, then selling the cars to metal scrap yards in Berkeley County.
Investigators charged 69-year-old William Charles Craven and 34-year-old Anthony Hulk Craven, of Awendaw, SC with grand larceny. Deputies added a drug charge to the younger Craven following the pair's arrest April 8.
A Highway Patrolman spotted the pair driving a 1977 Chevrolet truck down Interstate 26 towing an abandoned car on what investigators called "a homemade" tow dolly.
The trooper tagged the abandoned car with a tow notice earlier in the day. The trooper reported the abandoned car, a 1992 Crown Victoria, had a flat front tire and was sitting on the side of the interstate between mile marker 136 and 138. After the stop, troopers told Calhoun County investigators the Cravens gave conflicting stories of why they had the vehicle, and could not provide the name of the vehicle's owner, according to a sheriff's office report.
Investigators searched the truck and found scrap yard receipts from as far back as 2009 that showed the Cravens had sold dozens of cars to three separate scrappers in Berkeley County; the most buys came from Berkeley Scrap Metal, Sheriff Thomas Summers said.
Investigators have connected the pair to 155 missing vehicles, with 60 of the total confirmed stolen, Summers said. Another 60 of the total had their vehicle identification numbers partially destroyed. Summers confirmed nine of the vehicles were stolen from Calhoun County. Investigators said the pair could be responsible for car thefts in several counties in South Carolina and Georgia.
The elder Craven told investigators that a man he knew as "Sanchez" paid him $100 to tow the Crown Victoria to a "military base" in Charleston, according to the incident report.
Hours later, the registered owner of the Ford reported the car stolen after he returned to retrieve it from the side of the interstate. The owner told investigators that he did not give the Cravens permission to tow his car.
The Cravens remain jailed at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center under a $60,000 bond. Summers said Thursday he expects to file additional charges against the Cravens as the investigation continues.