EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Evansville Police say Matthew Gunn allegedly stole up to 34 catalytic converters in the Evansville area in just a 3 month span. The road to financial recovery for some victims of these thefts appears lengthy. But why the increase in these types of thefts?
“It’s a quick, easy theft and they can actually get pretty good money out of them,” explains EPD Corporal Michael Sides.
An easy theft, and a frequent theft, according to Cpl. Sides. Police say a pattern of thefts in the area of First Avenue between Diamond and Columbia spiked in December and January. Flock cameras and license plate readers in the area led police to Matthew Gunn.
“It was a Chevy Avalanche, very distinct vehicle,” says Cpl. Sides. “Plate number was visible, able to determine the owner.”
An attempted theft on January 16 seemed to break the case open, when Malik Chambers of Evansville heard cutting noises from his backyard.
“I knew what he was doing when I heard the metal grinding with the saw. I knew he was trying to get the catalytic converter,” says Chambers. “The vehicle wasn’t there long. So when I heard him cutting it, that’s when I yelled at him. I didn’t go over there because I didn’t know if he had anything. So the smart thing was to just yell at him and get him out of there.”
Chambers informed police of the attempted theft, which allowed officers to begin building a case. Cpl. Sides says Gunn used a fake business name, ‘Gunn Investments’, to sell the parts to an Owensboro metal recycling facility.
“Between October 27 of last year to January 26, he had 25 transactions for a total of 31 catalytic converters,” says Cpl. Sides.
Another victim, Bernard Cooper, a Dream Center employee who had just purchased his box truck.
“We only had it an hour,” says Cooper. “We had it parked here, we were loading something up, and we stepped off to take my son to school, and when we came back, the muffler was hanging out on the ground.”
Surveillance video shows the incident occurring in just a few minutes. Cooper says he was the victim of another catalytic converter theft at the beginning of the year.
“If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any, I guess,” says Cooper. “It’s unfortunate because there’s people that got to pay for these repairs,” explains Chambers. “It’s just not right, it’s not right at all. And catalytic converters are not cheap, not cheap at all.”