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Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department investigating catalytic converter theft spree

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Catalytic converters are the new hot commodity for thieves. The auto part sits on the underside of most vehicles and is used to turn harmful exhaust into safer gasses. But thieves are not interested in the safety aspects of the device.

“The material that they use inside of them, I believe they use platinum. One of them, I think is called rhodium,” said Travis Rowan, co-owner of Shorty Anderson’s Auto Service in Morgantown. “It is very valuable material.”

The Monongalia County area is no exception to the nationwide crime spree. Jeremy Angle, a 24-year-old Morgantown resident was charged this week for grand larceny involving the theft of these converters.

In the criminal complaint for Angle, Deputy Stephen Currie says the MCSD is investigating a spree of these thefts throughout the county. When asked, Chief Deputy Mark Ralston says this spree is under investigation and that more information is expected to be released later this week.

“We have had a lot of customers come in especially over the last couple of months with their converters cut off,” Rowan said.

The crime surge reminds Rowan of the copper theft spree from a few years ago. He says buyers often visit his shop asking staff members if there are any extra converters left from maintenance. But it is not just the buyers that have visited.

“It looks like they are using battery-powered sawzalls. We had one of ours cut off and even found the sawzall blade laying there afterward,” Rowan said.

He says the converters are on the underside of the vehicle, hinting that lifted vehicles like pickup trucks may be a target for thieves due to the ease of access. According to Facebook posts by victims over the past week, thieves more often target vehicles parked away from others in public parking lots. Angle, the man charged with grand larceny, is accused of conspiring with a lookout who would keep watch for any bystanders while Angle allegedly cut out the converters.

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