Hotel guest catches man stealing catalytic converters

DESOTO COUNTY, Mississippi — A DeSoto County man faces robbery charges Tuesday after police say they caught him with stolen catalytic converters.

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown was arrested after a witness saw him cutting out a catalytic converter from a car in a hotel parking lot near Highway 64.

An employee of Home 2 Suites near Wolfchase Mall did not want to be identified but told WREG that a very observant hotel guest caught a catalytic converter theft in progress Sunday night.

“They said they heard the noise…the squeaking noise he makes every time they cut the room and they said, ‘Oh, I bet that’s someone cutting a catalytic converter,” the employee said. “So they walked around the parking lot and caught them doing it. Luckily, they were able to take a picture of themselves and a picture of their license plate to the police.

Police determined the suspect vehicle to be a 2011 Hyundai with Mississippi license plates.

Undercover officers spotted the SUV at a gas station in Poplar and Ridgeway and identified 25-year-old Andrew Brown as the driver.

Inside the SUV, officers located two catalytic converters, a portable power saw, a loose blade, and a wrench. Brown was charged with possession of burglary tools and theft of property worth $1,000 to $2,500.

The incident report showed that police questioned the owner of the SUV but did not say whether she was charged.

Larry Walker, owner of Mid-Town Auto Parts and Salvage, says it’s a risk people are willing to take.

“If they know what they’re doing, they can come and go in a minute,” Walker said.

While he can’t sell used catalytic converters, he says the law hasn’t stopped people from selling stolen units and profiting from the precious metals inside.

“Legally the only way to buy or sell a converter is to be a car dealer and there are places that buy converters from people who are not dealers and that was the hardest thing to regulate,” Walker said.

According to the police report, the catalytic converters recovered Sunday night were valued at approximately $2,000.

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