DELTONA, Florida -- Law enforcement agencies from half a dozen counties have been tracking down a wide variety of automobile thefts with ties to an organized theft ring centered in Volusia County. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit has been working with the other agencies for the past four months and identified the alleged theft ring’s leaders as Deltona residents Christopher DeFronzo and Matthew Walker. The pair were arrested Friday morning on two warrants, each charging them with operating a chop shop. However, officials say that the investigation is not over. Investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating additional stolen property.
DeFronzo was arrested at his home at 1009 Ireland Drive Friday morning without incident. Walker was arrested a short time later during a traffic stop in Orange City. Investigators have determined that 27-year-old DeFronzo and 24-year-old Walker planned and organized thefts in Volusia County, Lake County, Seminole County and as far away as Hillsborough County. These cases have been accepted by the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor for prosecution since they cross into six judicial circuits. Police say that not only did the pair do the planning, they also personally stole several trucks, wreckers, motorcycles, car haulers, and trailers. They then allegedly sold them for parts or converted them to their own use.
Specific to their Volusia County charges, DeFronzo and Walker are accused of stealing a tow truck in February and then removing its tow bed, lighting equipment and other components. Some of the removed items were recovered in March in Orange City along with a flat bed trailer stolen from Sanford and a Ford F450 stolen from Lake County. Yet more parts from the tow truck were discovered in a DeLand automotive repair shop along with a grill from another tow truck stolen from Longwood. The more investigators followed up on connections to DeFronzo and Walker, the more stolen property they found. A trailer stolen out of Seminole County was found in Deltona. A truck transmission stolen from Sanford, Florida and a set of tire and rims stolen from Seminole County were found in DeLand.
The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are forthcoming. Investigators are looking for additional property that may have been sold to residents without their knowing the items they bought were stolen. If you have purchased a vehicle or are just holding property from DeFronzo and Walker or from any of their associates, please contact your local law enforcement agency to inspect this property.
If anyone has further information about the pair’s activities, please call the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s Auto Theft Unit at (386) 254-1537 or call Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida, toll-free, at (888) 277-TIPS. Tipsters can also provide information by texting “TIP231 plus the message” to CRIMES.
Anyone who provides information to Crime Stoppers will remain anonymous and can qualify for a reward of up to $1,000.