MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCBD) – The rise in the price of precious metals is causing an increase in crime in Berkeley County.
“Since December, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office has received 20 different reports of people’s catalytic converters being stolen,” said Capt. Michael Crumley with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
He went on to say, “Usually during the nighttime hours, I imagine they’re getting ready to go about their day – they go out to start the car, it’s making a lot of noise, then only to learn that someone has cut out the catalytic converters from their car and now they owe a big repair bill to get their car running again.”
In addition to individuals, Prince Auto Sales was hit on February 7th.
Somebody even stole the catalytic converter out of the church van at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on Highway 6.
“The price for the precious metals that are inside the catalytic converters has really gone up drastically and now we’re starting to see these rising thefts to get those converters.”
One converter can be worth several hundred dollars for the platinum, palladium and other precious metals they contain.
“The sheriff’s office has been conducting undercover investigations for the last couple of months and what we learned in our investigation was there was a business, it was an illegal business, being run there at Farrell Street by Samuel Scott McWaters.”
They do not have any evidence that McWaters was personally stealing catalytic converters, but he does not have a license to buy and sell them, and he advertised that at his business.
Deputies went undercover and he bought their catalytic converters for cash. Even if he was licensed to trade them, anything over $25 requires a check.
“We executed a search warrant yesterday and took McWaters into custody,” said Capt. Fowler.
McWaters is facing about 11 counts due to this investigation.