5 North Carolina Men Caught in Florida Stealing Catalytic Converters

5 North Carolina men were part of a large scale catalytic converter theft ring were caught at the Copart auto salvage yard at 2601 Center Road in Fort Pierce stealing catalytic converters. More than 180 catalytic converters were recovered from the thieves.

According to St. Lucie County deputies, the closing manager of the Copart in St. Lucie County contacted 911 at approximately 8:00 p.m. on Friday after locating two suspicious ladders positioned along a perimeter wall.

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Upon arrival, responding units were able to locate four suspects: Carlos Martinez, 30, Carlos Umberto Argueta Bonnila, 51, Jose Octovio Martin Hernandez, 51, and Jose Odair Martinez Funez, 39. The fifth suspect, Ladonte Shaquille Hill, 29, was identified and later apprehended at a nearby hotel.

Sheriff’s detectives believe the gang traveled all the way from North Carolina and are responsible for over 180 catalytic converter thefts from this Copart location, and they expect that number to rise

“Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves for their precious metals. With the arrest of these five individuals, we hope to deny their precious freedom for a long time, so they don’t victimize anyone else,” said St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara.

The Sheriff isn’t lying, catalytic converter theft is a lucrative business. The converters contain platinum and bring a good price at scrap metal dealers. I’ve taken a few catalytic converter theft reports myself.

All five suspects were arrested and transported to the St. Lucie County Jail. Each of the suspects were charged with burglary of an occupied structure, possession of burglary tools with intent to use, and grand theft. Each suspect is being held on a $190,000 bond.

Pro tip: This is Florida, and we still believe in the rule of law. Stay in North Carolina and steal there, you probably would have been released without bond. Even better, get a job!

If you have any information, please contact the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, or call Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-TIPS (8477).


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