10 people allegedly sold over 1,000 catalytic converters and received over $190,000 for them
Over the past several months the Maine State Police have spear headed a multi-agency investigation
Northern Penobscot and Southern Aroostook - Over the past several months the Maine State Police have spear headed a multi-agency investigation into the theft of catalytic converters in Northern Penobscot and Southern Aroostook Counties. Working closely with the Penobscot and Aroostook County District Attorney’s Office Tr. Tim Saucier has executed several search warrants recovering numerous catylatic converters and many power tools also believed to be stolen.
Tr. Saucer was able to charge the following people with Title 30A 3778-2 scrap metal processors violation. This is a civil violation with a penalty of $1000 fine for the first offense, $3000 fine for the second offense and $4500 fine for the third offense. 22 year old Hunter Craig of Patten, 50 year old James Curtis of Greenbush, 48 year old Ronald McGraw of Stacyville, 43 year old Larry Morgan of Sherman, 26 year old Bud Nason of Island Falls, 29 year old Jordan Pelkey of Stacyville, 34 year old Kyle Stevens of Ludlow, 36 year old Lucas Suitter of Stacyville and 33 year old Jessica Tremblay of Silver Ridge all appeared in Penobscot District Court and admitted to the first offense violation with a fine of $1000. 41 year old Charles Garton of Patten was charged with the civil scrap metal processors violation, unswworn falsification (Class D), theft by unauthorized taking or transfer (Class C), theft by receiving stolen property (Class C), and violating conditions of release (Class E). Garton remains incarcerated at the Penobscot County Jail related to these charges and other felony drug charges.
The above 10 defendants sold over 1,000 catalytic converters and received over $190,000 for them dating back to December of 2019. The estimated replacement cost of these 1,000 converters is over two million dollars. This case remains under investigation and additional charges are pending.
The theft of catalytic converters has become a major problem for law enforcement in Maine. Catalytic converters are difficult to trace and match up to a particular victims vehicle. The victim impact is immense with a replacement cost for a catalytic converter at a dealer in the range of $2000 not to mention being unable to operate the affected vehicle until it is repaired. Catalytic converters sold as scrap go for $150-$1500 depending on the level of precious metals contained within the converter.
These catalytic converters are stolen and sold to various crap metal facilities throughout the state. In Maine when you sell a catalytic converter to a scrap metal facility you must sign an affidavit swearing the converter is not stolen and produce a photo ID. To legally buy and sell catalytic converters the law requires you maintain records to show it was legally obtained. This crime is closely linked to drug dependence and is a way for people suffering from drug addiction to get money fast. The wording and definition of Maine’s current statute has proven challenging for law enforcement and prosecutors alike. Changes are being proposed to amend the statute through the legislature in the coming months.
State Police urge people to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods to law enforcement immediately. The vast majority of these thefts occur in the middle of the night so parking vehicles inside a garage or close to your home with outdoor lights left on will help minimize your chances of being victimized.
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