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ST. GEORGE – A LaVerkin man is in custody and faces several charges filed in several independent investigations, including a case of theft of several catalytic converters – a specific crime that has increased by more than 600% statewide over the course of the last two years.
The theft investigation began on August 24 when officers were dispatched to a demolition site in St. St. George to follow up on a report involving nine catalytic converters stolen from the facility. A number of converters were still operational and had to be sold.
Officers traveled to the Purgatory Correctional Facility to speak to inmate suspected of the thefts, Frank Nathan Madrid, 39, who was still in custody after his arrest the day before during a traffic check in which officers allegedly found narcotics and accessories in the vehicle.
While speaking to officers, the suspect said he took the nine converters from the demolition site, and from there took them to Las Vegas where he sold them to a number of recycling facilities during of several days.
According to the report, each catalytic converter was worth up to $ 800.
The suspect was charged with third degree felony theft on Friday and made a first appearance in 5e district court later the same day.
One of the cases the suspect was being held on was filed following an investigation into a report received on August 8 of a theft reported by a hardware store on North State Street in Hurricane.
Surveillance footage showed a man who appeared to be wearing a black wig, hat and sunglasses entering the store where he took a pair of mechanic’s gloves and put them in his pocket.
From there, the suspect took two rolls of coiled copper wire and removed the wrapping which was put back on the shelf. The suspect then put the rolls in a backpack and left the store.
According to the report, the officer noted that he recognized the man in surveillance footage as Madrid, who allegedly donned the same black wig and black Puma sneakers he had been seen in recently, and reportedly entered a dump that was closed at the time.
The agent had already met the suspect on several occasions, and the report also said that Madrid had been charged with trespassing at a grocery store in the area following another retail theft reported months before, and a History revealed a number of theft cases and convictions, including one conviction for theft of a firearm.
The suspect was questioned at the jail on September 23, when he allegedly admitted to taking the items from the Hurricane store. He was then charged with retail theft and trespassing, the report says, and was also on probation when the alleged crimes took place.
Urban mining and the dramatic increase in catalytic converter theft
The continued rise in the number of catalytic converter thefts caught the attention of the Utah Attorney General’s Office when it announced in June the launch of “Operation Urban Mining,” a massive joint effort to fight against this type of theft which can take less than two minutes.
While the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles is a growing problem nationwide, there has been a 600% increase in the number of stolen converters over the past two years in Utah alone, according to the office of the G.
The theft of these devices has also been covered by St. George News three times this year, including an April report describing the increase in the number of reports of theft of catalytic converters in Mesquite Nevada. A February article described an arrest involving the theft of two catalytic converters taken from Cedar City, as well as a report released in January after University of Southern Utah police released a statement implicating two suspected people for stealing five converters.
These converters are stolen for their precious metals, including palladium, rhodium, platinum, titanium, and other materials – and can be sold for up to $ 400 per converter. With the price of palladium at over $ 2,700 an ounce and rhodium listed at $ 20,250 an ounce, according to Metalary, it’s no wonder thieves prefer these expensive items that can be sold in many outlets. recycling.
Thefts are carried out by thieves who crawl under vehicles in parking lots, parking garages and residential driveways and use hacksaws to remove the device – which also happens to be a crucial part of the emission system. ‘a vehicle and is expensive to replace.
On average, each converter costs up to $ 1,800, and some up to $ 3,000, and without it the vehicle is rendered useless.
During the operation, investigators discovered many legitimate dealers of scrap metal and recyclables who were not following Utah laws or best practices. The task force also discovered that many illegal transactions of catalytic converters were taking place in the parking lots of department stores and linear shopping malls.
The multi-jurisdictional undercover operation included undercover law enforcement officers, scrap metal dealers and recyclers, and thieves attempting to sell stolen converters online. So far, the operation has resulted in three arrests, six felony warnings, 13 criminal offenses and the same number of dealer audits. In addition, 124 catalytic converters were also seized as evidence.
Madrid are due to appear in 5th District Court on Thursday and are being held on $ 5,000 bail. He has remained in detention since his arrest on September 23.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits posting of arrest reservation photos until a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, the police or other stakeholders and may not contain all of the findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty by a court or as otherwise decided by a trier of fact.
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