OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A metro man is in jail for his alleged involvement in a string of catalytic converter thefts.
“It’s not just a one incident case,” said Sgt. Dillon Quirk with Oklahoma City Police Department. “There are multiple, multiple cases.”
Court documents reveal Patrick Wilson was allegedly caught on camera nearly a half a dozen times in the last few months looting the pricey car part.
Wilson allegedly stole catalytic converters from cars in parking lots at a Home Depot, Smith and Nephews and an Academy Sports and Outdoors.
He was arrested a few days ago and faces charges for Grand Larceny, Malicious Injury or Destruction of Property of $1,000 or more and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony.
“And we’re not done,” said Quirk. “There possibly could be more arrests in this case. Investigators are still working on it. It’s still in the early to mid-stages of the investigation.”
While this isn’t a new crime, police say it’s a growing one.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau shows a 400% increase in cases between 2019 and 2020. Though 2021 numbers aren’t out yet, experts expect the numbers to rise much higher.
“We don’t keep the numbers on it,” said Quirk. “But we know that they are prevalent.”
The crime’s prevalence was a big factor behind one lawmaker’s decision to actually take action this session.
“Here in my district, we’re having several constituents reaching out to me, complaining about their catalytic converters being stolen and how much it was costing them,” said House Representative, Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow.
House Bill 4373, authored by Rep. Ford, specifies that stealing catalytic converters would now be considered third degree burglary. Punishment could include up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
The hope is that the stricter law will deter criminals.
“Hopefully they will decide that, you know, it’s not worth it to commit crimes, because I think that’s what the people of Oklahoma want,” said Rep. Ford. “They want a safe environment.”
Rep. Ford said the bill overwhelmingly passed. It was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt and goes into effect Nov. 1 2022.