Major break in catalytic converter theft cases

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(ABC 6 News) — Shawn Clement has been charged with theft and possession of stolen property. His bail has been set at $100,000.

One person has been arrested in connection with numerous catalytic converter and vehicle thefts across southern Minnesota and north Iowa.

According to Captain James Schueller, the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office has been working on a case against 36-year-old Shawn Clement for quite some time.

In October, a total of eleven catalytic converters, valued at about $2,500 each, were stolen from Hilltop RV Sales and Camping World in Oronoco. Capt. Schueller said deputies who responded to those thefts found a cell phone under one of the vehicles that was impacted. Deputies said the cell phone contained pictures of Clement, and they got a search warrant to search the phone further.

While searching the phone, investigators said they also found that the cell phone was registered to Clement and there was evidence of him contacting scrap businesses trying to sell converters. They also said they found his phone location tied to numerous locations where catalytic converter thefts had occured.

At one point, authorities placed a GPS tracker on Clement’s vehicle, which they said he found and then placed on a garage door at a storage unit he was renting. Also inside that storage unit, authorities said they have found several converters thad had been recently cut off vehicles.

On November 24, authorities said Clement was seen crashing through the gate at Schwickert’s roofing in Stewartville and stealing two vehicles.

Capt. Schueller said his team also worked with other law enforcement agencies and they believe Clement is connected to thefts in those cities as well. That includes at least $40,000 worth of converters at a Camping World location in Cedera Falls, IA, thefts at another location in St. Ansgar, IA and thefts in the Minneapolis area.

On Tuesday, November 30, deputies were called to Oak Summit golf course after some damage had been done to a tee box. At that scene, deputies said they found paperwork and receipts that had Clement’s name on them. There were also pieces of a truck left behind where the tee box had been damaged.

Capt. Schueller said five more catalytic conveters were stolen from a property near the golf course, and authorities believe Clement parked his truck at the golf course while he carried out those thefts.

Deputies went to Clement’s home, a camper in rural Dodge County, on Tuesday and said his truck was missing the same pieces that were found at the golf course.

Clement was arrested and is facing multiple theft charges as well as a felony damage to property charge. Capt. Schueller said there could be more charges in this case as his team continues to investigate. He called Clement one of the "top two catalytic converter theives" in the area for the past year-and-a-half, and authorities are asking for a high bail amount.

In September, Clement and another man were arrested in connection to a burglary case in rural Olmsted County.