Commuters Urged to Report Suspicious Activity Immediately
LA PLATA, Md. (April 30, 2010)—Charles County Sheriff's officers have increased patrols near park and ride commuter lots after receiving reports of stolen catalytic converters. Three thefts occurred on April 29 between 5 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the Route 205/Mattawoman Beantown Road lot and one theft was reported at the La Plata lot.
Thefts of catalytic converters—a small device placed on cars to help control pollution—are a nationwide problem. Thieves steal the converters and sell them to scrap metal dealers. Suspects who target these devices try to steal as many as they can at one location and they target areas where cars are parked for a long period. Motorists whose converters have been stolen will notice their car's engine will sound very loud when the vehicle is started.
The Sheriff's Office started keeping track of the thefts a few years ago as the national trend was noticed.
"Our goal is to keep track of the thefts and to mobilize our officers in areas that are likely to be hit so we can apprehend the suspects," said Sheriff Rex W. Coffey. "In July of 2008, officers arrested a suspect after a citizen called police to report a man crawling underneath a car with a saw - in the middle of a grocery store parking lot. Officers arrived just in time to catch the suspect who was found to have four stolen catalytic converters already in his car."
Police are urging citizens to be on the look out for suspicious activity and to call the sheriff's office at 301-932-2222 immediately if unusual activity is observed. Maryland State Police can be reached from a cell phone by dialing #77.
"It's difficult to prevent these types of thefts but one arrest can make a big difference. The important factor is for citizens to pay attention to what's going on around them and if something looks suspicious, call us immediately so we can send an officer out right away," added Coffey.
Charles County Crime Solvers offers cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest or indictment. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may contact Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS or Text CHARLES + your tip to CRIMES or visit www.ccso.us to submit a web tip.