STRATFORD, Conn. - Somewhere on the road to Times Square, the plot to explode a car bomb in the crossroads of the world passed through Kramer's Used Auto Parts, a weedy junkyard in an industrial zone of this suburb of Bridgeport.

"Things like that can happen in this world," said mechanic Rich King, squatted down next to a beat-up Toyota Camry. He discussed the license plate reportedly stolen from a Ford truck on the lot that turned up on the Nissan Pathfinder set to explode in Times Square on Saturday night.

Ringed by a chain-link fence, the lot has dozens of cars in various states of disrepair, a wandering black cat and piles of engine blocks. Only a few of the cars on the lot appeared to have any plates to steal.

Still, says King, "It can happen to anyone's car. It was a coincidence."

Since the discovery of the bomb, a lot of signs have pointed toward this section of Connecticut, about an hour north and east of New York City.

A sticker on the Nissan's fender directed investigators to Thomas Anthony Auto Sales, a used-car dealer in Bridgeport. By 6:45 a.m. Sunday, owner Thomas Manis said, he had agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force on his doorstep in Monroe, asking for records of the car.

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The VIN number had been changed, so it took some time. He eventually turned over records on a Pathfinder that he sold in 2004, but the buyer was quickly eliminated as a suspect.

"It was sold two or three more times after that," Manis said.

Then, there's the license plate. Owner Wayne LeBlanc, who declined to comment Monday, has said it was stolen off a truck in for repair. Friends said he should be taken at his word.

His longtime barber, Florina Florescu, said LeBlanc has long complained about thefts at the junkyard. "He's a very nice guy with a lot of grandchildren," she said Monday during a visit to the junkyard. "I'm sure he couldn't be involved."