Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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Graham, NC 27253
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One arrested; Burlington police seek help in finding catalytic converter thief/thieves

UPDATED: One arrested, others still sought

Police in Burlington have arrested an out-of-town resident for the theft of at least two catalytic converters that have recently vanished from parked vehicles on the grounds of area businesses.

But Robert Michael St. George, who was taken into custody on Friday, may not be the only one pilfering these automotive accessories in Burlington, which has apparently witnessed a spike in larcenies of catalytic converters over the past couple of months.

Brian Long, an assistant chief with Burlington’s police department, concedes that the capture of the 32-year-old white male from Lewisville hasn’t exhausted his agency’s list of potential culprits in these thefts.

Robert Michael St. George

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“We do believe that there are other individuals involved,” the assistant chief said in an interview Tuesday, “and we are currently looking at additional suspects.”

Long added that the driving force behind these thefts appears to be the presence of precious metals like platinum within catalytic converters. The assistant police chief noted that these metals are ultimately fenced on the black market since legitimate scrap dealers tend to shun catalytic converters that appear to be stolen.

According to the city’s police department, St. George was implicated in the theft of one such device after officers found him lurking near Haterz Athletics at about 1:00 a.m. on Friday.

These officers had visited this business along the 1800 block of Anthony Road to investigate a burglary in progress, which the establishment’s owner reportedly called in after he received an alarm notification and spotted a stranger on his security cameras casing the property.

The city’s police officers initially picked up St. George on an outstanding warrant unrelated to his activities on Friday. But once they had him in custody, the officers reportedly ascertained that their suspect had removed a catalytic converter from a vehicle on the grounds of the business. The department consequently charged St. George with one count of injury to property in order to obtain non-ferrous metals. It subsequently leveled a second count of this charge after additional evidence surfaced to connect St. George to the theft of another catalytic converter from Cox Toyota on January 24.

St. George’s arrest came less than a day after the police department announced that it had received multiple reports of stolen catalytic converters from local automobile dealerships. The department also circulated surveillance photos of two vehicles that appeared to belong to the culprits: one, a silver Mercury Mountaineer and the other, a dark-colored sedan that it tentatively described as a Toyota Camry. The department also released surveillance images of one of the suspects in this string of thefts.

Also shown is grainy surveillance footage of a male suspect in a dark hat, plaid jacket, and dark-colored pants.

The department is asking for anyone with information on the vehicles or the suspect to contact police.

The Burlington Police Department is actively seeking anyone with information regarding this or any other related investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Burlington Police Department at (336) 229-3500. For anonymous methods, call Alamance County-Wide Crimestoppers at (336) 229-7100 or using the mobile App P3 Tips or www.p3tips.com. Tips provided through Crimestoppers may be eligible for cash rewards.

All information and descriptions provided are based on information provided by the Burlington Police Department.

The department offers the following tips for members of the public to protect their car from catalytic converter theft:

  • Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas, close to building entrances and in fenced enclosures;
  • If you have a garage, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut.
  • Consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter. This may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify the owner if recovered by law enforcement.
  • Calibrate your car’s alarm to set off when it detects vibration.

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