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THEFT OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS BEING INVESTIGATED; ONE ARREST MADE

04/16/2020


William Joshua Lewis, Jr. 

The Sheriff's Office wants to alert the public to the fact that there have been a number of thefts of catalytic converters from parked vehicles reported since the first of the year.  Two such thefts were reported in January, four in March, and one in April to date.  The thefts have occurred in the rural Mountain Home, Midway, Gassville, and Buford areas.  We understand that these thefts have also been occurring in neighboring counties.

The thief or thieves seem to be targeting parked trucks and vans at both businesses and residences.  Trucks and vans are easier to crawl underneath to access the converters than most passenger cars are, allowing the thief to quickly cut off and remove the converter from the vehicle and then flee.

A suspect was developed in at least one of these thefts, and a bench warrant was issued for him.  This suspect , 33 year old WILLIAM JOSHUA LEWIS, JR., a Parolee with a rural Gassville address, was arrested at an address on Baxter CR 1087 in Northern Baxter County  this afternoon, April 16th,  by officers with the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections.  He has been booked into the Baxter County Detention Center on charges of Theft of Property, Criminal Mischief, Removal of Non-Ferrous Metal, and as a Habitual Offender.  He has a bond of $40,000 on that warrant and will appear in Baxter County Circuit Court to answer on May 7th.   WILLIAM LEWIS has been booked into the Detention Center a total of 15 times since 2007.

 If your catalytic converter is stolen, you will know right away when you start your vehicle.  It will sound like you don't have a muffler at all.  It is ok to drive your vehicle directly to a muffler shop or dealer to get the catalytic converter replaced.  There is no need to have the vehicle towed there.

Catalytic converters are expensive to replace.  They can cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars to replace.

Catalytic converters are attractive to thieves because they contain platinum, palladium, and rhodium.  They can fetch up to $240 per converter at scrap metal yards, providing a valuable incentive for thieves.  The Sheriff's Office has alerted local scrap and salvage yards of these thefts and is also monitoring digital transaction logs that scrap yards are required to maintain. 

There are a number of steps people can take to help prevent catalytic converter thefts.

1.        The most secure method is to always park your vehicles inside a garage or a secured side yard if possible.

2.       If you must park in the driveway, motion detector lights or continuous lights illuminating your driveway may be a deterrent.

3.       A vehicle motion detector alarm might help.

4.       Get together with neighbors to help monitor each other's property and immediately report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

5.       Consider having extra metal welded to your exhaust system.  Some muffler shops may provide this service in order to make it more difficult for a thief to remove the converter.

6.       Catalytic converter protection devices are available on the market that will clamp on or go around your converter to help protect it from being stolen.

7.       Consider having your vehicle identification number or some other identifying number engraved on the catalytic converter.  This may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify owners.

     The investigations into these thefts are continuing and should progress further following today's arrest of WILLIAM LEWIS.

/s/ John F. Montgomery,
Baxter County Sheriff

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