Maine State Police say an investigation into the northern Maine thefts of catalytic converters led to several arrests.

The investigation involved multiple agencies in northern Penobscot and southern Aroostook counties. Several search warrants have been executed, with police seizing numerous catalytic converters and many power tools, which are also believed to have been stolen. As a result, the following nine people have been arrested:

  • Hunter Craig, 22 of Patten
  • James Curtis, 50 of Greenbush
  • Ronald McGraw, 48 of Stacyville
  • Larry Morgan, 43 of Sherman
  • Bud Nason, 26 of Island Falls,
  • Jordan Pelkey, 29 of Stacyville
  • Kyle Stevens, 34, of Ludlow
  • Lucas Suitter, 36, of Stacyville
  • Jessica Tremblay, 33 of Silver Ridge

All nine suspects were charged with a scrap metal processors violation. This is a civil violation, that carries a penalty of a $1,000 fine for the first offense, $3,000 for the second offense, and a $4,500 fine for the third offense.

Also arrested was:

  • Charles Garton, 41 of Patten. He's charged with a civil scrap metal violation, unsworn falsification, theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, theft by receiving stolen property, and violating conditions of release. Garton remains behind bars at the Penobscot County Jail for these charges as well as other felony drug charges.

Maine State Police say the group sold more than 1,000 catalytic converters and received over $190,000 for them, starting back in December of 2019. The cost of replacing one of these parts is estimated at around $2,000, so the estimated total replacement cost for the 1,000 catalytic converters is over $2 million. Officials say this case remains under investigation and additional charges are pending.

The theft of catalytic converters has become a major problem in Maine. The parts are difficult to trace and match up to a particular victim's vehicle. Catalytic converters can be sold as scrap for between $150 and $1,500, depending on the level of precious metals they contain. In Maine, when you sell a catalytic converter for junk, you're required to produce a photo ID and sign an affidavit, swearing that the converter is not stolen. Officials say the growth of this crime is directly linked to the growing drug trade, as it presents an easy way for addicts to get money quickly.

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