YORKTOWN, Va. - A Newport News man has been arrested for catalytic converter thefts in York County.
The York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office says while deputies were on routine patrol around 11:40 p.m. Thursday, they noticed an unoccupied red Ford F-150 truck in the 300 block of Old York Hampton Highway. The vehicle was parked hidden in the back with the windows down, keys in the ignition and the radio playing.
Inside were also tools officials say would be used to steal catalytic converters. A suspect was found hiding near the vehicle.
Thirty-nine-year-old John Matthew Gigante of Newport News was arrested for two counts of Grand Larceny of catalytic converters and one count of Petit Larceny of tools. The thefts were from the Industrial Park on Old York Hampton Highway.
Deputies say more charges may be pending.
Gigante was taken to the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail around 6:30 a.m. Friday.
If you have any more information about this case, you are asked to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887) or the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office's Facebook Tip Line at (757) 890-4999. You should refer to Case # 2100917.
Catalytic converter thefts have risen throughout the country, including in Hampton Roads. YPSO says over the past year, they have had 54 reports for the stolen part. They say most have been stolen from box trucks or cargo-style vans.
A catalytic converter is an antipollution device that can be stolen in a matter of minutes and sold to scrap metal dealers because of the precious metals it contains.
The sheriff's office is offering the following tips to keep your vehicle safe from this crime:
- Park your vehicle in a secure garage
- If you don’t have a garage, park in areas easily seen by passers-by
- Park in well-lit areas
- If possible, park near security cameras
- Install motion-sensing lights in your driveway
- Consider purchasing a catalytic converter protection device (it costs less than $200 for the device, but it could cost $2,000 or more to replace a converter)