A Georgia thief made a fatal mistake while attempting to steal a car’s catalytic converter and was crushed to death by the vehicle, according to officials.
Officers with the Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) were called to Prestige Auto Sales around 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday after a deceased man was found under a vehicle in the car lot.
Police believe the man was killed while he was illegally removing a catalytic converter from the car and the vehicle fell on top of him.
The dead crook was identified as 32-year-old Matthew Eric Smith.
Smith was a career criminal with a long rap sheet in Chatham County.
Chief Jeff Hadley of the Chatham County Police Department said: “We normally don’t publicize every death investigation that we go to.
“Many are natural, it could be an overdose or something like that, but because of the uniqueness of this case,” and because he wants to stop anyone thinking about “going around stealing catalytic converters” he released the details.
Catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium.
Because of increased prices of the precious metals, a thief can get up to a few hundred dollars when sold to an unscrupulous recycling facility.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) says it has busted a nationwide ring of catalytic converters thieves.
“Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners from across the United States executed a nationwide, coordinated takedown today of leaders and associates of a national network of thieves, dealers, and processors for their roles in conspiracies involving stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars,” according to DOJ.
“Arrests, searches, and seizures took place in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia.
“In total, 21 individuals in five states have been arrested and/or charged for their roles in the conspiracy.”
The owner of a local car dealership showed up to work to find a dead body under one of his cars. Police determined it an “accidental death”, South Bound Auto Sales said it’s tied to someone trying to steal a catalytic converter. @WTOC11 pic.twitter.com/kE4l3SY4Qg
— Alyssa Jackson WTOC (@thealyssaj) March 8, 2023
“Just like the precious metal inside every catalytic converter, there’s a money trail at the core of every criminal scheme,” said Chief Jim Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
“Our IRS-CI special agents and partners are incredibly well-versed at unraveling financial trails and this case is not unique.
“There are real victims here – friends, neighbors, and businesses – and our hope is that today’s arrests will deter similar criminal activity,” he said.
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