Meanwhile, feds round up multi-state ring
Four people from Newark were arrested on Tuesday in connection to the theft of seven catalytic converters from RCT busses at the Rural Community Transport facility on Industrial Parkway in Lyndon.
The thefts were the latest in a growing statewide and national criminal enterprise of stealing catalytic converters because of their $1000 street value and lack of tracing information.
Following an investigation, police identified the suspects as Gary Bolton, 33, and a 15-year-old juvenile who had removed the catalytic converters from the busses. Police identified accomplices to the crime as Cheyenne Spreadbury, 25, and Shannon Rainey, 41.
Spreadbury and Rainey allegedly drove a vehicle used to transport Bolton and the juvenile, as well as the stolen catalytic converters, to and from the RCT facility.
Police say all four suspects were located at a residence in Newark, where Lyndonville Police assisted the state police in executing a search warrant for a separate case. All four were taken into custody or released by VSP for their investigation.
Bolton was charged with larceny, unlawful mischief, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Spreadbury and Rainey were charged with aiding in the commission of a felony and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The juvenile was charged with larceny and unlawful mischief. Republished from Newport Dispatch.
In an unrelated police action, federal, state, and local law enforcement partners from across the United States, including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), executed a nationwide, coordinated takedown Nov. 2 of leaders and associates of a national network of thieves, dealers, and processors for their roles in conspiracies involving stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars, Homeland Security announced.
Catalytic converters are components of an automotive vehicle’s exhaust system that reduce toxic gases and pollutants from a vehicle’s internal combustion engine into safe emissions. Catalytic converters use precious metals in their center, or “core”, and are regularly targeted for theft due to the high value of these metals, especially palladium, platinum, and rhodium. Some of these precious metals are more valuable per ounce than gold and their value has increased in recent years.
For example, the market price of rhodium closed at $13,700 Friday. Gold closed at $1,600.
The black-market price for catalytic converters can be more than $1,000 each, depending on the type of vehicle. Additionally, catalytic converters often lack unique serial numbers, VIN information, or other distinctive identification features, making them difficult to trace to lawful owners. Thus, the theft of catalytic converters has become increasingly popular because of their value, relative ease to steal, and lack of identifying markings, HSI said.
The process to remove the precious metals from the catalytic converters is complex and may release toxic gases. Therefore, catalytic converters are typically sold intact to an extraction company. The extraction company will remove the core from the catalytic converter using a “de-canning” process that crushes the honeycomb structure (or brick) inside the core, resulting in precious metal powders. The process of de-canning crushes the brick inside the catalytic converters; new bricks are not available for sale to the public. The precious metal powders are then sold to a metal refinery for further processing.