Suspect Arrested in Catalytic Converter Thefts

Orlanda Mohammed Hawkins, age 31, of Waldorf, was arrested for several thefts of catalytic converters.
LA PLATA, Md. (July 17, 2008)—The Charles County Sheriff's Office arrested Orlanda Mohammed Hawkins, age 31, of Waldorf, in connection with several thefts of catalytic converters. Hawkins was arrested on July 14 after a retired CCSO detective observed him stealing a catalytic converter from a car parked at a shopping center in the 3200 block of Crain Highway in Waldorf.

"This was great police work," said Sheriff Rex W. Coffey in a prepared statement. "The retired officer immediately called for assistance and followed the suspect until patrol officers arrived. After a brief foot chase, the suspect was apprehended and four stolen catalytic converters were recovered."

Sgt. Don Stahl, commander of the Property Crimes Unit, said law enforcement agencies across the nation have noticed an increase in the thefts of catalytic converters—a small device placed in a vehicle's exhaust system to help control pollution. "Thieves steal the converters and sell them to scrap metal dealers because the metals found in the device have cash value," said Stahl.

Since January, there have been 33 converters stolen, mostly from cars parked in places for a long period of time such as park-and-ride lots. "We started keeping track of the thefts as soon as we noticed a national trend. Our goal is to mobilize in areas that are likely to be hit so we can help reduce the number of thefts," Stahl said.

After Hawkins was arrested, officers found four stolen catalytic converters inside his car. They also recovered tools used to remove the device.

"It's not unusual that we recovered so many converters. Suspects who target these devices try to steal as many as they can at one location," said Stahl. "It's difficult to prevent these types of thefts but one arrest can make a big difference."

Hawkins was charged with four counts of theft over $500, malicious destruction of property, possession of burglary tools and possession of marijuana. He was remanded to the Charles County Detention Center.

Police say the investigation is continuing.

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