SAN ANGELO, TX — The Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office said they have solved a case of stolen catalytic converters and have the suspect in custody.
In November, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported a staggering 1,215% increase in the theft of catalytic converters since 2019. While a catalytic converter neutralizes harmful pollutants and emissions, it requires a variety of expensive precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium to filter your vehicle’s exhaust. The US government forced manufacturers of cars manufactured since 1975 to install the converters. Back in 1975, the metals used in converters were not as valuable as those metals are today.
While it is illegal to purchase a converter, thieves can sell them on the black market as scrap metal where the metals are harvested from the converter and sold on the open market. A typical catalytic converter on the black market can bring between $150 to $1,500 to the thief.
On August 16, the Tom Green County Sheriff's Office responded to the 6400 block of North Highway 87 Side View Road at 3D’s Plumbing for a report of felony theft, where three catalytic converters were stolen.
During the investigation, multiple items of evidence were collected and processed. The thief was very messy while cutting the converters off the plumbing company’s trucks with a SAWZALL Reciprocating Saw. According to TGCSO Lt. Bill Fiveash, who led the investigation, multiple items were found near the extractions, including a glove, bolt cutters and even a discarded SAWZALL blade. A cigarette butt was also recovered from the scene.
During the forensic exam of the collected evidence at the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory in Lubbock, DNA evidence pointed to the suspect. During previous investigations, the Sheriff’s Office identified Timothy Roberts, 49, as a suspect in multiple other felony thefts and burglaries cases.
Previously during other investigations, the Sheriff's Office legally obtained a known DNA standard for Mr. Roberts. Through this known standard, the Crime Lab was able to link Timothy Roberts to the biological evidence collected from this investigation.
On December 21, the Sheriff's Office obtained a warrant to arrest Timothy Roberts for Theft of Property >=$2,500<$30,000. The Sheriff's Office was able to locate and arrest Timothy Roberts at his residence off Webster Ave. Timothy Roberts was also charged with an additional active Grand Jury Indictment warrant for Theft of Property <$2,500 with 2 or more Previous Convictions.
Roberts remains incarcerated in the Tom Green County Detention Center under a $35,000.00 bond.
Fiveash said catalytic converter thefts are not at epidemic levels in the county but these types of misdemeanor thefts are what makes citizens feel the most violated. It costs between $945 and $2,475 to replace a stolen catalytic converter, depending upon the damage and type of vehicle, according to CarBrain.com. In addition to the three thefts reported here, he said he is working on two additional converter thefts. According to the NCIB, large pickup trucks, SUVs and Honda cars are popular targets. The Honda Accord outpaces the Ford F-150 in converter thefts.
In order to discourage thefts, the NCIB recommends parking in well-lit parking lots with security cameras. Or, better yet, your garage. A good catalytic converter thief can cut and then remove the device in about 30 seconds, the NCIB stated.
Money is the motivation, and money is needed to buy drugs. In addition on the theft charges, Roberts has four open drug possession charges pending in Tom Green County since June of this year.