MOORESTOWN — Police have arrested a Bronx man following a round of catalytic converter thefts in Moorestown in September.
The authorities are also looking for two other reported suspects and the car all of them were driving.
Moorestown Police Chief Walter Walczak described the car involved as a gray BMW with black wheels, tinted windows and a loud exhaust; it last seen on North Stanwick Road, he added.
This was the second rash of catalytic converter thefts in Moorestown in less than a week. On Sept. 17, a Saturday, thieves stole the highly valued converters, which contain several precious metals, from nine gas-powered school buses sat the township depot in the Moorestown High School parking lot. In what police described as a rare arrest in these type of thefts , Walczak announced Friday that John R. Villar Villa, 20, of the Bronx, New York, has been charged with one of several Thursday morning thefts of catalytic converters from cars parked on three different streets: East Linden Street, West Central Avenue and Locust Street.
Villar Villa also was charged with obstructing the police by fleeing.
However, after Villar Villa’s arrest the chief said another theft of a converter was reported on West Central Avenue at 6:28 am, also involving the suspect vehicle.
Walczak said officers were dispatched at 4:16 am Thursday to the 200 block of Linden Street for the report of two subjects in possession of a Sawzall power tool who were stealing catalytic converters from vehicles and were operating a dark-colored vehicle with a loud muffler .
He said two officers caught Villar Villa in the act when they arrived and then were able to capture him after he fled the scene on foot. He was arrested a short distance away in the 300 block of North Stanwick Road.
During the foot chase the police saw the car suspected to be involved in the thefts on North Stanwick Road southbound, moving at a high rate of speed. Police, focused on capturing Villar Villa, could not immediately pursue the vehicle, according to the chief.
Moorestown Police Lt. Howard Mann said he believes the three alleged thieves are members of a ring operating out of New York City.
“It’s hard to catch thieves like this because they come during darkness, late at night or early in the morning… That’s why we depend on residents to call us if they see or hear anything suspicious,” Mann explained.
Walczak said there were more police who responded to the scene because he recently implemented more patrols from midnight to 6 am because of an uptick in crime during those hours.
After Villar Villa was processed and issued a summons to appear on a future date in Superior Court in Mount Holly, Mann said he was immediately released because he was not required to post any bail.
The charges against Villar Villa are only allegations and he has not been convicted in connection with this case.
Anyone having information regarding these incidents is asked to contact the police criminal Investigations bureau tipline at 856-914-3092 or emailing [email protected]
This article originally appeared on the Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Bronx man arrested in catalytic converter thefts in South Jersey