By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN
COLUMBIANA - Police are continuing to investigate the theft of catalytic converters from trucks in the city and Salem's Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealerships.
The converters were stolen from 40 new diesel Dodge Ram trucks between the two dealerships sometime around July 14.
Columbiana Police Detective Wade Boley said Wednesday he met recently with the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Homeland Security in Columbus.
He didn't offer specifics of that meeting as the investigation is ongoing, but said he contacted the state agencies for help.
If found, the person or people responsible are facing third degree felony aggravated theft charges because the items stolen were between $150,000 but less than $750,000, he said.
The Columbiana and Salem police departments are working together on the investigation, and so far no one has been found or come forward as responsible.
Both Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealerships are owned by John Kufleitner and shortly after the thefts he offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction.
Thieves took the converters from 12 trucks in Columbiana around the same time as the ones were taken from Salem, Columbiana Police Chief Tim Gladis said in July.
The parts were insured.
Boley said the departments are still actively pursuing leads and encouraged anyone with any information to contact police in Columbiana at 330-482-9292 or in Salem at 330-337-7811.
Tips can also be left on the Columbiana website at www.columdbianapd.org.
The local thefts are among the many occurring across the nation as thieves target the parts for their valuable metals.
Earlier this week seven people were arrested for thefts in Las Vegas. That investigation lasted eight months and included help from SWAT team officers searching warrants in two locations, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
The Sun reported thieves tend to target catalytic converters because they contain metals such as platinum, palladium and iridium and the street value for the scrap metal content can range from $75 to $100.
In Ohio, the Hubbard Township Police Department's website said stolen converters can sell for $40 to $200 each and cost $1,000 to replace.
The website included ways the thefts can be deterred for individually owned vehicles, and those include parking closest to areas visible by passerbys and avoiding areas of long-term parking, parking in areas of video surveillance and parking in fenced-in areas.
Other deterrents include welding the bolts shut on the catalytic converter, or using a protective sleeve.