Police arrest 4 connected to catalytic converter thefts in Davidson County

Piedmont Triad News

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A cut fence is the first thing Todd Benson, who owns and operates ToolTime Jeep in Davidson County, saw when he came into work Monday morning.

Exhaust pipes were hanging from underneath eight of his vehicles, and a firearm was stolen from a car on the lot.

“When I came in and saw them, I called 9-1-1, that’s what you should do,” Benson said.

Carolina Senior Care in Lexington provides transportation for those who need medical services. The resource was also a recent victim of catalytic converter thefts after two of their vehicles were targeted.

They sent out this statement:

“Plans were already underway to add additional security cameras to the property, along with local police patrolling the area more often based on these recent events. As a Team, we are evaluating other measures that we can take to prevent future occurrences. As a not-for-profit organization, serving our elders and those who are physically challenged, these thefts had an impact on transportation services – our team members were able to modify operations and continue to meet the transportation needs of our participants without service interruption. The services we provide at Carolina SeniorCare are vital to our participants – whether it is transport to a physician appointment or to our location for socialization and clinic services. We hope that the individuals responsible are identified to prevent them from doing this again to others.”

Police arrested 26-year-old Patrick Eaton, 21-year-old Cheyenne Hamman, 32-year-old Jerry Maka, and James Wortring in connection with the crime.

“There were some friends of a friend — basically they tried to sell them to someone my son knows. Within 30-45 minutes we already knew who it was and where they lived,” Benson said.

He has been in the business for 12 years and never had to install a security system, but with the recent theft, it’s something he’s now looking into.

“Unfortunately, all I can do is security up, and make sure I have plenty of security footage, and cameras that now will be tied to my cellphone,” Benson said.

At Leonard’s Salvage in Lexington, there are signs around the shop that read, “Catalytic converters business licenses required in order for us to buy from you.”

“It’s so much money. I mean it’s a lot of money. The thieves know what’s here, they have been told,” said Randall Leonard, owner of Leonard’s Salvage.

Leonard says the average price of a catalytic converter runs about $300. His shop is surrounded by high voltage fencing and cameras. It is something he recommends other businesses consider.

“If you have the right car, you better make sure it’s locked up,” he said.

Benson says about 90 percent of the stolen items were recovered, including all eight of the converters and the pistol.

He says often the thieves don’t get caught. He says he’s fortunate police made arrests. Now he’s hoping his story will encourage other businesses to get a full security system, so thieves won’t get away with the crime.

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