Evansville police make arrest in catalytic converter thefts

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EVANSVILLE (WEHT) – A man has been placed under arrest and charged with taking catalytic converters that are worth thousands of dollars. The car parts are increasingly being targeted across several Tri-State cities.

“We started seeing a spike over the summer from May to about September started getting multiple cases of catalytic converters. I was finally lucky to get surveillance video of a red Chevy blazer on video,” said Evansville police detective Anna Gray.

Several other businesses had the same surveillance of the same car which ultimately led to the arrest of Daniel Payne, 36, during a traffic stop on Dec. 29. Payne was Gray’s main focus on a majority of her cases. He was believed to be stealing converters by cutting them off with a reciprocating saw.

“I obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and found the three catalytic converters inside vehicle. We took them back to the business just to confirm and the fresh cut marks on the catalytic converters and the wiring all matched up to the vehicle so we 100% sure knew that those were the vehicles, that they belonged to the vehicles,” Gray said.

Police said Payne sold over 50 catalytic converters to a scrap yard in Owensboro since May 2020, where he made over $12,000.

Dale Dartt of Dartt Automotive said the business has seen a high volume of cases like this coming through their own service station. And it’s costing victims and businesses a pretty penny.

“The reason they’re stealing catalytic converters is because there’s precious metals. There’s different types and styles and inside the catalytic converters in many different designs. And that’s what they’re harvesting. They’re harvesting those precious metals out of that. That’s what gives them their value,” Dartt said.

Gray said crimes have been seen across Vanderburgh County, Warrick County, Henderson with Owensboro being hit especially hard. They estimate that total costs of these crimes combined are at about $50,000 in damages.

She also said Payne isn’t the only one out there allegedly committing these types of crimes and that owners should be vigilant.

“I’m asking businesses if you have cameras, check them make sure they’re working. If you have vehicles that you’re going to be parking for a long period or overnight on the weekends, park them in a well-lit area,” Gray said.

Gray said while the crimes may not be physical, they are costing victims a lot of money. More charges will be sent to the prosecutor on Monday. Payne was released on bond.

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(This story was originally published on December 31, 2020)

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