A third man was arrested Tuesday in relation to a series of catalytic converter thefts in Clay and Duval counties, Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputies say.
Mark Hintz, 42, of Jennifer Lane in Jacksonville, now faces five charges of grand theft and damages in excess of $1,000, according to the arrest report. The case began in April when deputies were called to several businesses regarding catalytic converters being cut, stolen and pawned from vehicles, deputies said.
In total, eight catalytic converters were allegedly taken from businesses such as Grimes Utilities, Cruise America RV’s and MurphCo by three men working together over the span of approximately five months, the arrest report said.
Clay County investigators got a lead in the case in May when the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested John Dale, 55, of Jacksonville, and Shane White, 38, transient, while they were in the progress of cutting catalytic converters from underneath vehicles at Cruise America RV’s, the arrest report said.
According to investigators, Dale admitted to being involved in catalytic converter thefts in both Duval and Clay County. He also told investigators that he, White and Hintz all took part in the planning and theft of catalytic converters in Clay County.
Dale said he was the lookout guy and getaway driver while White and Hintz did the majority of the cutting of the catalytic converters with a special saw that had a flashlight attached to it, the arrest report said. Dale told investigators each converter would sell for approximately $1,800.
Hintz was arrested Tuesday and transported to Clay County Jail, his bond is set at $120,024. White is in Clay County Jail on a $120,024 bond. Dale remains in Duval County Jail with no bond listed.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said that the highest targeted catalytic converter theft vehicles are the Toyota Prius, the Honda Element, hybrid vehicles and large trucks and SUVs.
For owners of these vehicles, the sheriff’s office posted four tips of precaution:
- Park in well-lit areas or near an entrance. Park in a closed garage if you have one and, when in public parking lots, call 9-1-1 immediately if you see someone on the ground underneath a car with a power tool, the sheriff’s office said
- Businesses can install motion sensor lights and video surveillance around the area. The sheriff’s office suggests parking vehicles in such a way that makes it difficult for a thief to access them
- Citizens and businesses can install a catalytic converter anti-theft device such as a cage to help prevent the converter from being removed from the vehicle.
- Mark your converter, the sheriff’s office said. This can be done by etching an identification mark into the convertor or painting it to help identify it in the event that it is stolen. These markings will deter buyers from purchasing it and prevent thieves from cutting it, they said.