BREWER, Maine — After a string of stolen catalytic converters in Bangor and Brewer, officers from both communities began working together and their efforts paid off Thursday with the arrest of a Bangor couple.
The theft of catalytic converters from vehicles is fairly common because of their scrap metal value, police say.
Brewer police arrested Billy Beaulieu, 26, and Sheena Rolfe, 25, both of Bangor, at a local shopping center at 6 p.m. Thursday after Bangor police recovered the stolen items at a Bangor scrap metal recycling center.
Some of the recent thefts were brazen, Brewer police Lt. Chris Martin said Friday in an e-mail.
“These converters have been cut off of parked vehicles right out in the open,” he wrote. One was stolen from a Wilson Street “restaurant parking lot while victim(s) ate a meal,” and another theft occurred in Bangor in a “college parking lot in daytime hours.”
The theft at the Brewer restaurant occurred on Nov. 7, and a second was reported Wednesday from a South Main Street apartment house, Brewer Detective Nelson Feero said Friday.
A vehicle can run with a missing catalytic converter, he explained, but “it’s loud. You’re taking a piece of the muffler away.”
The high number of catalytic converter thefts in recent years spurred state legislators in 2008 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 helped investigators track down the possible thieves, Ferro said.
Once police found the stolen items at the metal recycling center, “we knew, Bangor knew, who we were looking for,” he said.
Beaulieu and Rolfe had recycled the stolen catalytic converters, and “the turned in converters were compared to the stolen converters and found to match,” a press release from Brewer Police Department states.
Catalytic converter parts contain a trio of metals — platinum, rhodium and palladium — which have a relatively high scrap value of between $5 and $125 depending on the vehicle.
Because replacing the stolen catalytic converters costs more than $1,000, both Beaulieu and Rolfe were charged with felony Class C receiving stolen property, Feero said. If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison and possibly a $5,000 fine.
Bangor police tacked on an additional charge of theft for Beaulieu, Bangor police Sgt. Allen Hayden said Friday.
After their arrests, the duo were taken to Penobscot County Jail and later released on bail. They are both scheduled to be in Penobscot Superior Court on Feb. 4.