Purcellville and Loudoun investigators uncovered a Vint Hill-area chop shop – and a suspect who tried to hide by changing one letter of his last name.
Gordon Kerr, 59, was charged with five counts of possession of a vehicle with an altered identification. He was arrested by U.S. Marshals after an investigation into an operation in the 6500 block of Vint Hill Road, where Kerr allegedly had been dismantling stolen cars and altering them for resale, according to a search warrant filed in Fauquier County Circuit Court.
Police recovered four Corvettes, a Ford van and a 2012 Dodge Ram truck.
It started on Feb. 6 when Kerr rented a storage unit in Purcellville to house what appeared to be a 1997 Corvette, using the name “Gordon Verr,” according to the search warrant.
The unit had 24-hour access by way of a gate code. While employees were performing routine gate code checks, they found that Kerr's was not working correctly.
After failed attempts to notify him, employees at the storage unit contacted the Purcellville Police Department.
The vehicle identification number (VIN) was checked, and came up as reportedly stolen seven years ago from Michigan. Purcellville Police asked for help from Loudoun investigators.
On Feb. 12, with search warrant in hand, Det. Chris Staub of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office examined the corvette.
The VIN stated that the car was green, but Staub was looking at a red Corvette. After examination, Staub deduced that the red paint was the factory color, and the body was not a 1997 model.
"At this point the inconsistencies in the information pointed to a re-vinned vehicle," wrote Staub in the affidavit.
The false VIN was crudely engraved in the frame rail.
Investigators took the Corvette to a General Motors dealer, where they found after-market performance parts had been added which were consistent with those used in racing.
They were able to internally access the true VIN, which had been reported as stolen in Maryland more than four years ago.
Kerr had cut the VIN plate from the dashboard of the 1997 Corvette – the donor vehicle.
Race slips list driver “Gordon Verr" as entering several times with a 1999 Corvette within the last two years.
Staub found that Kerr, who had addresses in Maryland and Gainesville, Va., tried to sell vehicles to a dealership in Maryland, but was denied.
Searching for Gordon Verr came up dry, but searching for Gordon Kerr produced valuable information, including a photo and a history of fraud by selling salvage vehicles and possessing vehicles with altered VIN numbers.
Storage unit management were able to identify Kerr when they were shown his photo.
Throughout all this, the 1997's VIN was traced back to Linda Peters of Stamford, Conn.
The 1997 vehicle was still listed under her name, and she had a number of other Corvettes and collector vehicles registered to her.
Staub was able to contact Peters' daughter who said that Peters had wrecked the Corvette, and listed it on Ebay for parts.
Staub informed the Virginia State Police of their investigation, and law officers cast their net for Kerr.
U.S. Marshals caught up to Kerr on April 2. When they arrested him, he was driving a re-vinned 2011 Ford Conversion van, according to the search warrant.
Upon searching the Vint Hill property, Staub found parts consistent with the Corvette.
Agent Mike Jones with the Virginia State Police said that Kerr had been re-vinning vehicles since 1993, and had cases pending in Fairfax, Prince William, Fauquier, Manassas and Loudoun counties as well as in Maryland.