Reportedly, there have been many thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles in North Carolina over the past few years. Catalytic converters are very expensive to replace, and apparently their black-market value makes them a prime target. A recent tri-county investigation into stolen catalytic converters across the region has led to dozens of arrests. Of course, an arrest is not evidence of anything, and those accused have every right to defend themselves in court.
Investigation and arrests
Officials from New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties combined forces to investigate the reported catalytic converter thefts in the area. Dubbed Operation Sawzall, the two-month investigation began after reports of hundreds of catalytic converter thefts over the last two years, with 22 thefts reported in 2022 so far.
Law enforcement officers began their arrests on April 19, and they took into custody 27 people, who now face a combined total of 423 felony charges. Officials also reportedly recovered 653 stolen catalytic converters. Most of the alleged thefts targeted church buses and other vehicles that had been parked for some time with little or no surveillance. Authorities say that the catalytic converters were then sold to buyers in other states at a considerable profit. To replace a catalytic converter can cost upwards of $3,000.
Right to defense
Regardless of the evidence gathered by law enforcement, each accused individual remains innocent in the eyes of the law until, and only if, convicted in court and beyond a reasonable doubt. That legal standard is intentionally set high to avoid convictions against innocent individuals. Each of the accused will likely work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney in North Carolina to protect all applicable legal rights and fight for a fair result. A lawyer will challenge evidence prosecutors plan to use against the defendant and work to obtain the best possible outcome for the client.