ELIZABETH — Union County Police arrested a homeless man on Wednesday who may have stolen dozens of catalytic converters since last December. The devices, which can cost up to $1,000 to replace and are typically located on the undercarriage of vehicles, contain small amounts of precious metals and convert toxic exhaust products into less toxic substances.
Robert T. Ross III, who had previously lived in Winfield Park, was charged with theft, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, and criminal mischief.
Union County Police Officer Jesus Quijano recently contacted American Alloy in Elizabeth as part of an investigation into the theft and sale of catalytic converters in Union County. Upon his visit he was informed that a man had been coming there frequently to sell the devices. After obtaining basic information and a general description, Quijano engaged an investigation of the location for several weeks.
At 3 p.m. on July 31, Ross attempted to sell a catalytic converter at American Alloy and was arrested without incident. Bail was set at $5,000.
Authorities suspect Ross in the theft of approximately 67 catalytic converters since December 2012. The investigation is ongoing and more charges may be filed in the future, officials said.
The charges against Ross are merely accusations; he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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