GREENSBURG, Pa. — Investigators have nabbed three men suspected of running a destructive catalytic converter theft ring that spanned several counties across our region.
“The brazen acts of these suspects not only cost innocent drivers and business owners thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, but these suspects terrorized our neighborhoods, our businesses across Western Pennsylvania for months,” said Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole W. Ziccarelli.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Ziccarelli announced charges against three men from Chicago: Harold Wade, Antonio Johnson and Christian Buie.
According to a criminal complaint, the suspects were utilizing two rental vehicles, one traced to Washington D.C., and staying at an Airbnb on Pittsburgh’s North Side.
From on or around Nov. 30, 2022 until Jan. 21 of this year, the suspects are accused of causing more than $200,000 in damage as they stole catalytic converters in Westmoreland, Fayette and Allegheny counties.
Car dealerships, including the Jim Shorkey in North Union Township were targeted, according to the criminal complaint. Moon Township police also suspect the crooks stole the costly metals from several tow trucks. According to the complaint, the suspects’ Airbnb rental was in “close proximity to numerous Jan. 21, 2023 catalytic converter crime scenes throughout Allegheny County.”The complaint details how numerous police agencies collaborated amid the investigation, utilizing video surveillance, license plate readers, a mobile tracking device and search warrants to identify and charge the three suspects.
“It was such a highly technical investigation,” said North Huntingdon Chief of Police Robert Rizzo.
Rizzo added that police believe there are “probably more” victims out there, and encourage anyone with information to come forward.
All three suspects were arrested on Jan. 21.
Johnson, the complaint reads, made “incriminating statements regarding his involvement in the catalytic converter thefts, including renting a U-Haul storage locker for catalytic converter thefts.”
Two of the Chicago men, Wade and Buie, were previously arrested for catalytic converter “related thefts” in January of 2015, according to complaint.
The suspects are being held at the Westmoreland County Prison without bail.
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