2 arrested, charged with theft of catalytic converter

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WBAY 22 June, 2021 - 10:04pm 29 views

What is a catalytic converter?

Catalytic converters change harmful substances in a car's exhaust gasses, such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons, into less harmful substances like carbon dioxide and water vapour by means of chemical reactions. AutoExpressCatalytic converters explained: how they work and theft prevention

According to the criminal complaint, police officers were sent to a Kwik Trip on E. Mason Street shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18 for a welfare check.

A man was reportedly passed out at the steering wheel of a vehicle parked near the gas station, and when officers arrived, they found two people inside - a man in the driver’s seat and a woman in the backseat.

Once on scene, officers woke both the man and the woman up, and police say they found a pipe used for marijuana in the woman’s pocket.

The woman has been identified as 23-year-old Samantha Scharenbroch.

Officials say Scharenbroch became emotional and then started crying, saying she was upset she was going to jail, and had several other court proceedings she was dealing with at the time.

According to the complaint, Scharenbroch had an active warrant out of De Pere.

Meanwhile, the driver, identified as 28-year-old Christopher Benz, had an active arrest warrant from the Department of Corrections.

After searching the vehicle, officers said they found a large amount of tools, including an electric saw and replacement blades, as well as a box filled with several vehicle brake rotors. They also say they found a catalytic converter in the trunk, as well as the exhaust tubing, which had appeared to be cut from another vehicle.

Police say they knew there had been a large amount of catalytic converter thefts in the area.

As Action 2 News has previously reported, Green Bay Police have responded to about 14 catalytic converter theft incidents since April.

RELATED: Creativity required to thwart catalytic converter thieves

Police say most vehicles hit were parked outside a business, and the catalytic converter, designed to convert toxic gases into something less harmful, were removed in the blink of an eye.

When police began asking questions, Scharenbroch said she made her living by scrapping metal, and said the parts in the car came from a shop that Benz’ friend owns. However, she told police she had no idea where the shop was, who owned it, or how they came to possess the parts.

Later that morning, an officer was sent to the Green Bay Area Public School Auxiliary Services Building, where a person reported two of the Chevy Express cutaway trucks owned by the district had had their catalytic converters stolen.

Officials say the thefts happened on Saturday, and security video of the vehicles used during the incident was driven by a man, and a woman was a passenger.

The complaint states the vehicle matched the one Benz and Scharenbroch were found passed out inside of.

RELATED: Police warn of uptick in catalytic converter thefts

Online court records show Benz has been formally charged with one felony and three misdemeanors, all with repeater and Party to a Crime modifiers:

Online records have not been updated as of this time to show when his future court date is.

Meanwhile, Scharenbroch’s court records show she has been charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors:

Her next court date - an Adjourned Initial Appearance - is scheduled for 2 p.m. on July 16.

RELATED: Milwaukee thieves targeting catalytic converters

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Catalytic converters are being recycled in Chico

Action News Now 24 June, 2021 - 10:25am

People in Chico are frustrated that recycling centers are accepting catalytic converters.

CHICO, Calif. - Auto body shops in Chico said they are seeing one to two people a week coming in to replace stolen converters.

Victims of catalytic converter theft want to know why scrap metal places are accepting these targeted precious metals.

"I've had clients of mine who just purchased homes,” said McCarthy. “They call me a week or a month later saying that their catalytic converters were stolen off their car. They are curious if they purchased in the right neighborhood and if they purchased in a place that has a lot of crime or not."

When McCarthy became a victim himself, he had to stop the free van service he once offered his clients.

"I had to sell it because of all the issues I have been having with people either drilling out my fuel tank, cutting my fuel lines and also I have had my catalytic converter stolen,” said McCarthy.

So why are recycling centers accepting these precious metals?

"The person who is rightfully trying to recycle their catalytic converter because they do own it, we want them to have the right to recycle that material,” said Kim Scott, co-owner from Chico Scrap Metal.

The recycling center does have some protocols in place.

"For precious metals by state law we are required to collect ID, fingerprint and hold material for at least three days,” said Scott.

McCarthy hopes all recycling centers will listen and do more.

"They should all get together and for the good of the community say we are not going to take this product anymore,” said McCarthy.

Scott told Action News Now that it is a recyclable material.

“That is the business we are in, to recycle material,” said Scott.

One of the recommended ways to prevent this from happening to your car is to have a better alarm system, that way when any type of motion or touch a loud sound will go off.

"I know there are some companies that are able to put kind of like a security brace underneath the catalytic converter, almost like a security gate you would have on your house,” said Kareem Abouzeid, CEO of Knockout Collision Repair.

Chico Scrap Metal said that most converters brought in are from legitimate mufflers or auto body shop owners and they have not had any proven stolen converters turned in here yet.

"I don't think there's a neighborhood that gets it more than others,” said McCarthy. “I think it's equal throughout the entire city, unfortunately.”

Chico Scrap Metal added that most thieves bring the converters to the Bay Area because they can get more cash and have less chance to get caught.

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Jacksonville police officer awarded for devising plan to curtail catalytic converter thefts

ActionNewsJax.com 23 June, 2021 - 05:33pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) is praising a young police officer who recognized a sharp rise in recent catalytic converter thefts across Jacksonville and devised a plan to stop it.

Officer Paul Dew recognized the trend involving reported catalytic converter thefts from local businesses in his assigned Zone-3 and began investigating available data related to the crimes, JSO said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Dew devised a plan, and with the assistance of squad members, stopped potential suspects in the act. JSO says because of Dew’s plan, multiple suspects were apprehended during attempts to steal catalytic converters from a local business. The suspects were also linked to similar reported crimes occurring around the city involving catalytic converter thefts.

Catalytic converters are on all gas and diesel engine vehicles, but full-sized pickup trucks, Priuses, and Econoline-style work vans are the most common vehicles that have been targeted, according to JSO

So why are catalytic converter thefts on the rise? Last month Action News Jax investigator Ben Becker told you it’s likely because these car parts contain valuable metals like rhodium, which was worth about $600 per ounce five years ago. Today, it’s skyrocketed to approximately $28,000 per ounce — 17 times the price of gold — because the element is in short supply, while global demand is rising for emission control in cars.

To help keep your car safe from theft, JSO recommends these parking tips:

A power tool is required to steal someone’s catalytic converter, so JSO is asking the public to be aware of any loud noises around cars and report any suspicious behavior.

Man arrested in catalytic converter theft at Spring apartments, another on the run

KTRK-TV 23 June, 2021 - 11:49am

Man arrested in catalytic converter theft at Spring apartments

We've seen our fair share of catalytic converter thefts around our area lately, but the most recent incident was at a car dealership.

Houston-area authorities said they are seeing a spike in catalytic converter thefts. After falling victims to the rising crime, a couple has a warning and tip to help prevent others from becoming victims.

WATCH: ABC13's Courtney Fischer unfortunately has a personal story when it comes to catalytic converter theft. Hear what she has to say about noticing the part is gone and how you can protect yourself.

Isaac Sanchez's car went up in flames, leaving him without a way to make money. Plus, he says this all came at a terrible time.

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