Authorities seek theft suspects
Two churches in Benton County have had two vans each stripped of catalytic converters in December, according to sheriff Robby Goolsby.
The first theft took place December 15 at Flat Rock Church on Highway 2 between the hours of 4 a.m. And 4:45 a.m. According to reports from church members, Goolsby said.
The second one occurred at Pine Grove Church on Highway 5 between 7 a.m. And 7:15 a.m. December 16, he said.
Two Benton County individuals have also had catalytic converters stolen off vehicles, the sheriff said.
Two persons of interest are being sought in these incidents, Goolsby said.
What thieves are after is the platinum inside the catalytic converters, he said.
“We believe they are selling them to one or more individuals and those people are carrying it to the scrap yard,” Goolsby said.
Like the sale of copper, those who are selling catalytic converters must wait three days to get paid by the scrap metal yard, he said. Values range from $50 to $250, according to the sheriff. Posts on social media by church members have generated tips coming in to the Benton County Sheriff’s Department, Goolsby said.
He does not believe the persons of interest are from Benton County.
Other counties reporting theft of catalytic converters from church buses include Tippah, Union and Alcorn counties, Goolsby said.
Another post on social media came from Life Tabernacle Pentecostal Church in Corinth with the pastor saying a catalytic converter had been stolen from the church van.
Sheriff Goolsby believes the persons of interest in Benton County are likely the same in the catalytic converter thefts in the other counties.
Marshall County Sheriff Kenny Dickerson said the scrap metal yards know better.
“These people who are buying them, they know better than that,” Dickerson said.
Anyone who has information that may help identify suspects in these cases are asked to call the Benton County Sheriff’s Department office at 662-224-8941.