COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A Columbia man has been charged with operating a chop shop in Gaston.

Lexington County Sheriff James Metts says 45-year-old Vernon Edward Gardner was jailed Thursday on one charge of operating a chop shop and four counts of possessing a stolen motor vehicle.

Metts says Gardner was arrested after police found four partially dismantled sports cars at his shop in Gaston. The cars had been reported stolen from dealerships in North Carolina and were valued at a total of $320,000.

Deputies say they started investigating after fire officials found Gardner burning car parts in a business earlier this month.

Gardner was being held on $375,000 bond. It wasn't known if he had an attorney.

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