Catawba County Sheriff deputies charged a man they found selling catalytic converters in the parking lot of Academy Sports + Outdoors in Hickory on Tuesday afternoon.
Catawba County Sheriff’s Office investigator Mike Crisp said deputies were patrolling the area and spotted David Brandon Campbell, 28, and Tara Suzanne Barber, 31, selling the converters. Both are homeless, according to investigators on scene.
Along with six catalytic converters, investigators also discovered methamphetamine, heroin and cutting tools in a vehicle believed to be owned by Campbell.
Two hours after deputies discovered the converters, a source told them six converters were missing from trucks at a blood donation center, OneBlood, located just across U.S. 70.
Crisp, along with Hickory Police investigators, said the stolen converters matched the ones being sold in the nearby parking lot.
Investigators said they believe Campbell took the converters from the trucks sometime between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Crisp said Campbell was charged with felony possession of stolen goods.
Crisp said the county has seen a rise in catalytic converter thefts. “We had heard they are making around $800 for one converter,” he said.
He added that church buses are a common target for catalytic converter thefts, as they aren’t used very often.
Investigators don’t believe any one group is responsible for the rise in thefts of catalytic converters. “There’s not a certain group that’s doing it,” Crisp said. “It’s everybody that’s out like a free-for-all.”
Campbell and Barber declined to comment.
Barber was charged with possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Catawba County Who’s in Jail website.
Campbell was also charged with possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.