PENOBSCOT COUNTY, Maine — EDITORS NOTE: The above video was published March 6, 2021 when Houlton Police Chief Tim DeLuca warned Mainers about increased catalytic converter thefts.
Maine State Police announced the arrests of 10 people in connection with the theft of over 1,000 catalytic converters that they say would have cost over $2 million to replace.
According to police, the suspects made over $190,000 from the car parts that were allegedly stolen from as far back as December of 2019.
The following people were arrested:
Hunter Craig, 22 - Patten
James Curtis, 50 - Greenbush
Ronald McGraw, 48 - Stacyville
Larry Morgan,43 - Sherman
Bud Nason,26 - Island Falls
Jordan Pelkey,29 - Stacyville
Kyle Stevens,34 - Ludlow
Lucas Suitter, 36 - Stacyville
Jessica Tremblay, 33 - Silver Ridge
Charles Garton,41 - Patten
Sgt. Josh Haines from Maine State Police, Troop F, said in a press release multiple agencies from Northern Penobscot and Southern Aroostook counties worked together over the course of several months on this investigation.
Haines says many power tools that are believed to be stolen were also confiscated.
Officials say all the suspects appeared in Penobscot District Court and Charles Garton remains at the Penobscot County Jail. This case remains under investigation and additional charges are pending.
According to Sgt. Haines, the theft of catalytic converters has become a major problem for law enforcement in Maine. He says catalytic converters are difficult to trace and match up to a particular victim's vehicle. The replacement cost for a catalytic converter at a dealer is in the range of $2000. Haines says 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 scrap metal facilities throughout the state. Haines goes on to say 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 to maintain records to show it was legally obtained.
Maine State Police claim stealing catalytic converters is closely linked to drug dependence and is a way for people suffering from drug addiction to get money fast and warn people these thefts usually 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 to deter thefts.