Three men charged in connection with thefts of catalytic converters

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By Tom Wilmoth

Two Roanoke men and one Bedford County man have been arrested and charged in connection with property damage and stealing catalytic converters from two businesses in Bedford County.

On Aug. 29, Bobby E. Taylor, 38, of Roanoke, and Gregory D. Brown, 53, of Roanoke, were arrested just after midnight while allegedly attempting to steal catalytic converters from Sydisco Salvage, located on Quarterwood Road in Montvale. Both men were charged with destroying private property, trespassing and attempting to steal a catalytic converter.

Major Ricky Gardner of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office said the owner of the business had been victimized earlier and became suspicious the night of the arrests. The owner's actions helped lead to the arrests, Gardner said.

Both Brown and Taylor were also charged with eight additional charges, three counts of stealing catalytic converters, two counts of destroying private property and three counts of trespassing at Bedford Auto and Salvage, located on Centerville Road in Bedford. Those thefts allegedly occurred between Aug. 1 and Aug. 9.

Gardner said further information provided by the two men led to the charges from previous thefts.

On Aug. 30, Darrell Martin, 62, of Stewartsville Road, Moneta, was arrested and charged with nine counts of conspiring to commit trespassing or larceny, all of which are allegedly related to both the Sydisco and Bedford Auto and Salvage larceny cases.

Catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle's emission system, contain platinum and are valuable as scrap metal, Gardner said, adding that over the past couple of years there have been numerous such thefts. He said Bedford Auto Auction has been among the businesses victimized in the past. Gardner said that often there might be a rash of thefts along the U.S. 460 corridor. He said the catalytic converters can bring from $40 to $100, or more. "It's a problem nationwide," Gardner said.

Gardner said on one weekend, the county had several such thefts from vehicles located along a path from Montvale to New London and received information on similar thefts from as far west as Salem. He said sometimes catalytic converters are taken from business vehicles on lots and the owner is not even aware until he tries to start it up. "It's very expensive to replace a catalytic converter," he said.

Both Brown, $3,500 bond, and Martin, no bond, were being held in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail in Bedford as of Friday.