A second suspect has been charged with allegedly stealing dozens of catalytic converters worth tens of thousands of dollars, and a Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department detective said this morning his goal is to climb the ladder and arrest the greater beneficiaries of the thefts – the ones who harvest and resale the platinum inside the devices.
Jacob Allen Foster, a 35-year-old man who lives on Silver City Road in Whitesburg, was taken into custody Thursday and charged with felony and misdemeanor theft. Foster and Ashley Dane Rickard, 36, Cedarwood Lane, who was arrested earlier, mostly acted together, according to Detective Sgt. David Stapleton.
“We just learned their names and kept focusing on them and it just panned out,” Stapleton said this morning. “We are going to do all we can to make sure they’re brought to justice.”
Their biggest alleged haul came in November at Transmissions R Us on East Andrew Johnson Highway when they removed catalytic converters from 50 vehicles. Stapleton and Detective Sgt. George Sauceman estimate the loss at $30,000.
Stapleton says he believes Foster and Rickard were off-loading the stolen catalytic converters at two locations inside Hamblen County and one outside Hamblen County. Catalytic converters contain between 3 and 7 grams of platinum or platinum-group metals, which can be sold at stores that buy other precious metals. Platinum sells for about $30 a gram.
The detective says the stores that allegedly have been buying the platinum are outside Hamblen County, and he didn’t rule out the possibility that he and Sauceman have photographs or videos of the platinum sellers. He did say he does not need their cooperation to make cases on the people who allegedly sold the harvested platinum.
Detective Jackie Hickey with the Morristown Police Department charged Foster and his girlfriend, 34-year-old Chelsie Brooke Walker with stealing two catalytic converters from vehicles at Twin City Motors on Buffalo Trail on Jan. 4. Those two devices are valued at $500.