Additional charges for catalytic converter thief
WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WWAY) — The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office has levied additional charges on a man accused of numerous catalytic converter thefts.
On July 19, 2021, Daniel Graham Hayes, 31, of Chadbourn, fled from a Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Deputy after he attempted to stop Hayes on Blackwell Road in Cerro Gordo.
Columbus County Sheriff’s Office had received a call for an attempted breaking or entering and a break in resulting in damage to property. Hayes matched the physical description of the suspect, and his vehicle matched the description of the suspect vehicle.
Hayes’ attempted to elude law enforcement by driving into a field, but his vehicle bogged down in the muddy field. Hayes exited his vehicle and fled on foot. After an extensive manhunt, Hayes was located in a swampy area near Cedar Grove Baptist Church.
Hayes’ vehicle was searched. Investigators located an amount of currency, two bags of methamphetamines, prescription medication, and multiple syringes. Hayes was arrested and charged for the above offenses.
Information obtained during this investigation, led investigators to information that Hayes was responsible for multiple catalytic converter thefts in the county. In May 2021, Joey Brian King Sr, of Bird Cage Road, Chadbourn, noticed that the catalytic converters had been removed from a wrecked truck in his yard. He also had gasoline siphoned from another truck that was on the property. In June 2021, David Duton Sr., of Whiteville, parked in the overflow parking lot at International Paper in Riegelwood. While parked in this parking lot, Duton’s catalytic converters were removed from his truck.
In July 2021, a car parked at Caroline Stevenson’s residence on Joe Brown Highway North, Whiteville, was damaged when the catalytic converters were removed. Also in July, a car belonging to Robert D. Smith of Fair Bluff, was damaged on Peacock Road, Chadbourn, when the catalytic converter was removed from it.
During the investigation, Hayes was interviewed and admitted to the above incidents, in addition to three other incidents. One incident occurred in Bladen County, the victim has not been located, another incident involved a victim that does not want to press charges, and the last incident involved a white van that was left disabled on the side of US 74 in the west bound lane. The owner of the van did not file an incident report and has not been located yet.
Hayes was in custody at the Columbus County Law Enforcement Center for the charges from July 19th. He was served the additional charges for the catalytic converter thefts listed above.
In total, Hayes was charged with the following charges: Felony Flee/Elude Arrest with a Motor Vehicle; Felony Possession with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, Deliver Methamphetamine; Felony Maintaining a Place to Keep/Sell a Controlled Substance; Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; Misdemeanor Resisting Public Officer; Felony Breaking and Entering; Felony Larceny After Breaking and Entering; Misdemeanor Injury to Real Property; Failure to Appear on Misdemeanor; Failure to Appear on Misdemeanor; Failure to Appear on Misdemeanor; two counts of Felony Larceny; and Misdemeanor Larceny.
Hayes is currently being held on a $42,000 secured bond at Columbus County Law Enforcement Center.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, North Carolina is one of the top five states for catalytic converter thefts.
Catalytic converter thieves target vehicles that are easily accessible like disabled vehicles, abandoned vehicles, or vehicles at businesses, left overnight. Thieves often use battery operated reciprocating saws to quickly cut off the converters. They take the part(s) to a scrap yard where they can get anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars for one converter. The vehicle owner is then left with a repair that can cost $1500 or more.
If you are the victim to a catalytic converter theft, it is important to file an incident report with the law enforcement agency in your area.