Brewer police seeking parts thief

Posted Sept. 12, 2008, at 11:21 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:25 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — Police are looking for a man caught on infrared video surveillance tapes last week stealing catalytic converters from a business in the Wilson Street area.

The burglary was reported to the Brewer Police Department on Sept. 2, and the department released images of the suspect on Friday.

“There is a possibility that he has been involved in other metal thefts in the immediate area,” Capt. Jason Moffitt said. “We believe that anyone who knows this person, seeing one of those half-decent pictures, will recognize him and call us.”

The business that provided the video footage has asked not to be identified, he said, adding that it installed the infrared camera system “because of prior theft incidents.”

The theft of catalytic converters from vehicles has become more common in recent months because of their scrap metal value, police say.

The high number of catalytic converter thefts spurred legislators this year to create a paper trail for people trying to sell them.

The new law requires scrap metal processors to “maintain an accurate and legible record of each scrap metal purchase transaction that exceeds 100 pounds or $50” and that they pay sellers with checks to “maintain a record.”

The new law also requires “a signed statement from the seller at the time of sale that the property subject to the transaction is not stolen property to the best of the seller’s knowledge and that the seller is the owner or is otherwise authorized to sell the scrap metal.”

Catalytic converter parts contain a trio of metals — platinum, rhodium and palladium — that have a relatively high scrap value.

A company representative from Onesteel on outer Broadway in Bangor said “they range [in price] from $7 to $115 depending on the type [and year] of the vehicle” and that foreign models are worth more than domestic.

The new law has “made a difference,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. She said that the business has seen a drop in the number of catalytic converters brought in since the law was enacted.

Moffitt said the surveillance camera used to take photos of the Brewer burglary suspect provided a good quality image, which makes identifying people and vehicles easier.

“The infrared pictures [provided] were taken in basically total darkness,” he said. “We are seeing an increase in the amount of video surveillance, but the quality varies from business to business. I suggest people shop around [if they’re in the market for a good-quality camera].”

High-resolution cameras that are set up near entryways and exits are better at catching usable images, he said.

Those who can identify the burglary suspect should call Brewer police Detective Nelson Feero at 989-7001.

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