Investigators said Tuesday that three Chicago men accused this week of stealing catalytic converters from dozens of businesses and individuals in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Fayette counties are likely part of a larger theft network that is still active.
“The brazen actions of these suspects not only cost innocent drivers and business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, but these suspects terrorized our neighborhoods and our businesses across Western Pennsylvania for months,” Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli said in a press release. conferences. .
After a two-month investigation, police on Monday charged Christian Buie, 31, Antonio D. Johnson, 42, and Harold T. Wade, 29, with corrupt activities, conspiracy, theft and related offences. They are being held without bail at the Westmoreland County Jail.
According to police, investigators have gathered evidence that the three suspects were involved in the theft of catalytic converters from car dealerships in North Huntingdon, North Fayette and Moon, as well as other parked vehicles throughout the region.
Kaylee Barnhart, Pennsylvania State Police Public Affairs Officer in Uniontown, said additional charges were filed against three men in Fayette County on Tuesday.
The allegations relate to allegations that 20 catalytic converters were cut off cars at Jim Shorky’s car dealership near Uniontown. Investigators were able to link these thefts to similar crimes in Huntingdon North and on the Moon.
“The big picture is that we think there’s probably more out there,” Huntingdon North Police Chief Robert Rizzo said.
Investigators said the catalytic converters, a key component of a vehicle’s emission control system that reduces the amount of tailpipe pollution, cost about $1,500 each to replace but contain small amounts of precious metals, making them more valuable to private buyers.
Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr, who oversaw the investigation, said officials were surprised to learn that one of the metals found in catalytic converters, rhodium, could generate up to $27,000 an ounce on the black market.
“You sell enough of them and send them to the landfill… the amount of scrap you get from them is significant,” Barr said.
Ziccarelli described the network of thefts as extensive.
“This can go further and the investigation will lead us where it leads,” she said.
Rich Kholodofsky is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. You can reach Rich at [email protected] or via Twitter. .