A man and woman from Manchester have been arrested in connection with stealing catalytic converters from vehicles, authorities said.
Joseph Cook, 35, and Anna Hardy, face various charges of theft and criminal mischief, according to police.
These thefts, which occurred over the past three months throughout Manchester Township, as well as surrounding areas, resulted in an estimated collective financial loss to the victims in excess of $25,000, police said.
Detectives began conducting surveillance, and on Saturday, they observed Cook and Hardy in Barnegat and Tabernacle townships. In both locations, catalytic converters had been cut and removed from vehicles, police said.
Detectives subsequently stopped Cook’s vehicle and found cutting tools, and what appeared to be a catalytic converter, in plain sight.
A warranted search of Cook's car and both suspects' residence in Manchester Township found additional stolen catalytic converters, police said.
Catalytic converters are part of your vehicle's emission system and are valuable in the second hand market.
Cook was being held at the Ocean County Correctional Facility, and Hardy was released on summonses with a pending court date.
New Jersey State Police assisted in the investigation along with police departments in Toms River, Barnegat, Berkeley Township and Westampton Township.
Catalytic converters from large gas engine vehicles, such as work trucks, recreational vehicles, box trucks and vans are commonly stolen, though ones from hybrid cars are also considered highly valuable.
The damage from these thefts along with replacement costs can be in the thousands of dollars. Vehicles left unattended in lots, yards or clubhouses for any period of time are frequently targeted, police said.
Anyone with information on these thefts are encouraged to contact the Manchester Township Police Department at 732-657-6111
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