Ocean County officials said a three-month long investigation by investigators from the Manchester, Toms River, and Berkeley Township Police Departments resulted in multiple arrests for the theft of catalytic converters.
According to law enforcement officials, Mr. Joseph Cook, 35, and Ms. Anna Hardy, 41, both of Manchester, have been charged with thefts throughout New Jersey. Each faces various charges of theft and criminal mischief.
Officials say these thefts, which occurred over 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. Lead investigators Det. Adam Emmons of Manchester Township Police Department, Det. Travis Seaman of the Toms River Police Department, and Det. Shawn Bowens of the Berkeley Township Police Department worked tirelessly to develop leads and progress this investigation. As a result, Cook and Hardy were identified as suspects in these crimes.
Detectives began conducting surveillance, and on Saturday, March 13, they observed Cook and Hardy in isolated areas of Barnegat Township and Tabernacle Township. In both locations, catalytic converters had been cut and removed from vehicles. Detectives subsequently stopped Cook’s car and observed cutting tools and what appeared to be a catalytic converter, in plain sight Ocean County officials said.
The detectives received a court-authorized search warrant for Cook’s vehicle. While executing the search, they located and seized numerous stolen catalytic converters. A subsequent investigation was also conducted at Cook and Hardy’s residence in Manchester Township. The search revealed an additional stolen catalytic converter, as well as shoes belonging to Cook, which matched footwear impressions left at numerous crime scenes. Cook was ultimately lodged in the Ocean County Correctional Facility, and Hardy was released on summonses with a pending court date.
The Manchester, Toms River, and Berkeley Township Police Departments would like to thank the Westampton Township Police Department, the Barnegat Township Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police for their collective and cooperative assistance this investigation.
The Manchester, Toms River, and Berkeley Township Police Departments recommend that all vehicle owners be aware of the increased risk of catalytic converter thefts. 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. These catalytic converters are part of your vehicle's emission system and are valuable in the second-hand market.
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.
Anyone with information on these thefts are encouraged to contact the Manchester Township Police Department at 732-657-6111.