27 people, owner of a towing business, arrested in the bust of a catalytic converter theft ring

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ONSLOW COUNTY (WWAY) – A joint operation involving law enforcement from three counties and the FBI led to the arrests of more than a dozen people.

As part of Operation Sawzall, law enforcement said they stopped a catalytic converter theft ring that cost vehicle owners hundreds of thousands of dollars and implicated the owner of a towing company who used his license to make all of this happen.

New Hanover County, Pender County and Onslow County Sheriff’s Offices announced Thursday that they have arrested 27 people for allegedly stealing hundreds or even thousands of catalytic converters from residents of Southeast Carolina. North. Those arrested face a total of 323 felonies after nearly 700 stolen converters were found in their possession.

The three counties began working together when they discovered they were all looking for the same person, the alleged ringleader, Emerson Jordan.

“These individuals would steal the catalytic converters,” said Onslow County Deputy Chief Chris Thomas. “They would go to a middleman, most of whom are on the map…and that middleman would take them to Mr. Jordan in Pender County or New Hanover County, and they would sell them to him. He would in turn resell them at a much higher price.

After an investigation, WWAY was able to confirm with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department that Jordan owned a towing and hauling company called IHaul. He had a license to sell catalytic converters. On his Facebook page, he often posted that he would buy junk cars and could help people earn their own money.

According to Col. Chris Thomas, thieves would roam some areas at night, robbing active military personnel, businesses and churches.

“They would drive past a place like a church in a rural community, and everyone knows churches have pickup trucks, they would be left alone there during the week, so they were easy targets,” Thomas said.

Business owner Monty Newsome is among the victims. They stole the catalytic converters from several of his trucks.

“It ranged from $500 to $1,000 per converter. So it got quite expensive,” Newsome recalls.

Since then, he has rolled out other signs announcing the area was being filmed, but he has always feared the thieves will return.

“I’m grateful to the district attorney’s office and local law enforcement for sticking with the catalytic converter episode,” he said.

Over 200 catalytic converters have been stolen in New Hanover County in the past two years. The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that since these arrests there have been no new catalytic converter thefts in our area.


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