By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Police were involved in the solving of two recent crimes and are also working to stem the recent thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles.
According to the Groveport Police, on Sept. 27 around 6:30 p.m. a male wearing gray sweatpants and a black jacket allegedly committed robbery the Subway restaurant at 6029 Groveport Road. The suspect left the scene on foot after allegedly stealing about $226 from the restaurant. No one was injured in the incident.
Groveport Police Detective Mike Sturgill said the suspect allegedly told the restaurant employees he had a gun, but he said witnesses indicated the suspect did not show a gun.
Sturgill said the 23-year-old suspect, who is from Columbus, is linked to 24 other similar robberies in Whitehall, Reynoldsburg, and Columbus.
According to Sturgill, the suspect was identified after a Columbus Police analyst went through surveillance videos and then put the information through a police data base.
“It was determined it was (allegedly) the same guy,” said Sturgill.
“This suspect was arrested by Whitehall Police in reference to robberies in their jurisdiction and Detective Sturgill received a confession from the suspect regarding our robbery,” said Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams. “We are waiting on the Franklin County Grand Jury to come down with an indictment from our case and the other robberies that this person of interest committed in the central Ohio area.”
Also, according to the Groveport Police, on Oct. 11 a white, 2020 carry on, 16×9 foot cargo trailer, owned by Skills USA and valued at $7,500, was reported stolen from the Eastland Career Center parking lot, 4465 S. Hamilton Road.
“The trailer contained around $46,000 worth of items for career center students,” said Groveport Police Detective Josh Gilbert. “The property was only valuable to the students as they were awards for the kids.”
Gilbert said the suspect, a 36-year-old Columbus man, was located by partnering with other law enforcement agencies from areas where he had allegedly stolen other trailers, sharing information to include surveillance images and other intelligence, as well as tracking the suspect through the locations of his cellular phone.
“This suspect is linked to numerous enclosed trailer thefts across three different counties,” said Gilbert. “Charges will be filed.”
According to Gilbert, the suspect allegedly admitted during an interview that he shaves off the VIN from the trailers, paints them with exterior housing paint, and sells them, usually making any where from $2,000 to $4,000 per trailer.
“Detective Gilbert obtained a confession regarding this large dollar theft of a trailer and tools from Eastland Career Center and, again, we are waiting on the Franklin County Grand Jury to go through the indictment reading process to officially charge the suspect,” said Adams.
When asked how people can secure trailers so thieves cannot drive off with them, Gilbert said, “Most of these trailers contained locks on them in an attempt to stop the suspect from hooking up to them, but he would simply cut the lock. It’s recommended to place something in front of your trailer so thieves can’t back up to it or secure it indoors or a fenced in area. This suspect checks them for GPS tracking units and would cut them from the trailer after stealing them.”
Catalytic converter thefts
Recently thieves have been stealing catalytic converters by cutting them off of vehicles and then selling them for the metals the devices contain.
“Catalytic converters contain three precious metals – platinum, palladium and rhodium – which are extremely valuable at scrap yards,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert said the thieves typically like to target box trucks and other commercial vehicles as their catalytic converters are more valuable and usually each vehicle has two catalytic converts. On personal vehicles they target SUVs and trucks because they are easy to crawl under to get to the catalytic converters. He said the catalytic converter thefts are occurring mainly in Groveport’s warehouse districts, but some thefts have happened in residential neighborhoods and at the Groveport Recreation Center.
“This is an extremely difficult crime to stop as the suspects hit random vehicles and there is no link between the suspect and the victims,” said Gilbert. “Using a battery powered saw the crime is very quick and virtually impossible to stop.”
Gilbert said there is legislation working its way through the Ohio Statehouse to attempt to regulate the scrapping of catalytic converters without some form of proof of ownership as well as limit the scrap yards from giving cash for the converters.