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Cops bust prolific RV catalytic converter burglar

"cat" burglar
Olmsted County Adult Detention Center

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A man who law enforcement authorities believe could be the second-most prolific catalytic converter thief in southern Minnesota and north Iowa is behind bars. Shawn Clement (36), appears to have gotten sloppy while playing a cat-and-mouse game with cops, leading to his booking.

Olmsted County, Minnesota, police had been stalking their prey for a long time. They say their potential felonious feline target slid into Camping World and Hilltop RV Sales in October. During his visits, they allege Clement purr-loined eleven catalytic converters. He probably hacked the precious pollution reducers off their original rigs. Since each was valued at $2,500, it undoubtedly hacked off RV dealership managers.

But it appears Clement cut his own cheese when he left behind a clue: A “burner” cell phone was found under one of the molested motorhomes. A quick look at the pictures on the phone revealed Clement’s own photo. Could it really be a stealer-selfie? Police got a search warrant and found other interesting evidence. More pictures, including images of other cut-off catalytic converters. Perusing the pussy-footing crook’s phone records revealed contacts with – who else? – metal scrap dealers. Some of the contacts were text messages, asking about prices the dealers might pay for cat converters. The RV cat-burglar left his tracks behind!

Using the cellie as a marker, cops in “true-to-television” fashion did a little more skulking. Low and behold, Clement’s phone could be traced to areas very near to where other catalytic converters had been heisted.

Bell the cat?

But how do you shadow a cat? Law enforcement stealthily attached a GPS locator device to Clement’s vehicle. Ah, in true cat/mouse fashion, police say Clement discovered the device. One supposes he could have done many things with the tricky-tracker. Say, pitch it in a river. Attach it to a police car. But noooo. The evidently not-too-bright RV cat burglar attached it something stationary: the garage door of his rental storage unit. Inside of it were – sure enough – more catalytic converters.

In another none-too-smart move, police were called out by an irate golf-course manager. Someone had mowed over a tee box at the course, and police should investigate! They did. They found the crunched tee box and, nearby, paperwork with Shawn Clement’s name on it. Also on the scene, various truck parts that appeared to have come off the rig that did the damage. When police tracked down Clement’s rig, the parts matched.

The alleged RV cat burglar is now in jail. He’s a suspect in cases of more than 100 catalytic converter thefts. “We’re asking for a high bail,” police said. “We think he’s got some money stashed.” That’s paws-ibble. It’s a good thing somebody called in claw-enforcement.

Related

Scare away thieves: Paint your cat!

##RVT1029b

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Joe
1 month ago

Hopefully the police can track who he has been selling the catalytic converters to. They have created a demand for them and are a big part of this teft

Carson Axtell
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

The charge against scrap metal merchants can easily be “receipt of stolen property”. They deserve at least as much jail time as this thief gets, if not more.

Last edited 1 month ago by Carson Axtell
Fido
1 month ago

What’s with all the irrelavent cat references? 12 year old ‘author’?

Me Too
1 month ago
Reply to  Fido

I agree.

Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Fido

Agree a little unfunny

Carson Axtell
1 month ago
Reply to  Fido

Bingo! This author’s ego got too far ahead of the topic. Too much cleverness for such a costly crime, IMO.

Les
1 month ago

Mr. Clement will undoubtedly spend a couple years in the hoosgow and be levied with a small fine, which he won’t pay. Who says crime doesn’t pay!? Now, where’s my battery powered Milwaukee saw…

Roger Marble
1 month ago

A few years ago legislation was passed here in Akron, Ohio (and probably other locations) that required a photo ID from people selling scrap metal to a dealer. This was done in response to the theft of copper wire being cut out of homes under construction. So this put a big damper on the theft. Just bump up the penalty for cats. This is a recognized problem. No idea why legislators are so reluctant to address the problem. It can’t be a Conservative vs Progressive issue.

Carson Axtell
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

Agreed. This is a non-partisan issue: Politicians from both parties are greedy for populist issues to pontificate about, and RVers are still too small and disorganized as a group to warrant the theater of publicly indignant legislation…

Last edited 1 month ago by Carson Axtell
Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I hear these ‘grabbers’ like to target vehicles with ground clearance that allows them to slide under without having to jack the vehicle up. Motorhomes and pickups.

Joseph
1 month ago

This article should really “catch” your attention!

Stay safe, Joe

Michael Butts
1 month ago

I just received a call two days ago from the manager at the RV storage lot I use. Twelve RVs had their cats removed. Argh. Now the fun starts with getting a police report, filing a claim, finding someone that works on motorhome exhaust systems without a 47 month wait…

Joe
1 month ago

Scrap yards shouldn’t be allowed to buy them, problemsolved.

Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Absolutely, each one should have the vehicle’s VIN number etched on it and only a licensed entity should be allowed to etch a new one below the old one. Since these are so valuable, each theft should be a separate felony.

Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

True, but some scrapyards only see the PROFIT they can make by accepting them. Then you have the companies that recycle the platinum, accepting them from the scrapyards.

Brian
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

It’s not always the scrap yard, a scrap yard can legally purchase them from a licensed repair facility so all it takes is a few crooked shops selling to the scrapyards who may or may not know if they are legit.

Carson Axtell
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian

Laws against receipt of stolen property, such as catalytic converters, would apply as much to repair shops as to scrap yards…