photos courtesy of West Plains Police Departmentphotos courtesy of West Plains Police Department

Arrests Follow Catalytic Converter Thefts

Between the dates of September 17 and 20, the West Plains Police Department received reports of catalytic converter thefts from the First Church of God, First Baptist Church, Grellner Sales and Service and Verity Heating and Air, along with an attempted theft of a catalytic converter from a vehicle on Lincoln Street.
During the investigation, detectives were able to obtain video showing the suspect and vehicle. 
Detectives contacted the suspect who implicated himself and a second individual in the thefts. During the investigation, it was also learned that another catalytic converter had been stolen by the suspects over the weekend off a vehicle owned by Newton Group Home. 
On September 22, officers were dispatched to 202 Walnut Street for a report of a theft. Officers contacted a representative of the First Baptist Church and learned a catalytic converter had again been stolen from one of the church's vans. 
Video from the church was obtained again. Detectives went to the suspects' residence and arrested 34-year-old Christopher F Hogue and 52-year-old Jason T Vanatter. 
Houge and Vanatter are each being held on a $5,000.00 bond for felony stealing. A third suspect remains at large.
The West Plains Police Department would like to remind all residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to help battle the enormous problem of catalytic converter thefts.
The following are some potential best practices, which were identified in open-source and industry reporting, that may help prevent the theft of catalytic converters: 
-Park vehicles in a secure, well-lit area; 
-Install motion detector lights and video surveillance cameras in parking areas, which may serve as a deterrent; 
-Etch the vehicle identification number (VIN) onto the catalytic converter to ensure it is associated with the vehicle and would be identifiable if stolen; 
-Paint the catalytic converter with a high heat, high visibility colored paint to make it more difficult for a thief to sell;
-Spot weld any bolts that attach a catalytic converter to the exhaust system or install anti-theft devices, such as welding a piece of rebar onto the catalytic converter to make it more difficult to steal 
-Look for ways to block access to the underside of vehicle fleets with high clearance, such as by parking vehicles with lower clearance nearby
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Howell County News

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