COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Columbus man who 10TV profiled last March as part of a growing number of catalytic converter thefts has pleaded guilty.
Tommy Cox entered a guilty plea Wednesday to 15 felonies in connection with a string of catalytic converter thefts.
He was indicted March 4, 2022 on 32 felony counts including theft, receiving stolen property, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Police say the crimes stretched from Franklin, Fairfield, Licking, Muskingum and Morrow counties.
According to the Franklin County Prosecutors Office, Cox plead guilty to a number of crimes including violation of the metal scrapping law, possession of criminal tools, receiving stolen property, engaging in a patter of corrupt activity and weapons under disability.
Thefts of the exhaust emission control devices from vehicles have jumped over the past two years as prices for the precious metals they contain have skyrocketed.
Thieves sell the converters to scrap yards, which then sell them to recycling facilities to reclaim the precious metals inside, including platinum, palladium and rhodium.
For victims, the costs of replacing a stolen catalytic converter can easily top $1,000 and make their vehicle undrivable for days or weeks as the part is ordered and installed.
Police says Cox was allegedly paying people to cut catalytic converters as well as stealing them himself.
Cox was able to find some of his victims using an Apple Airtag, a $30 piece of technology that people may use to track their kids, pets or valuables. Cox would allegedly place the tracking device under someone's car and wait for them to park at another location.
Police said Cox's home in south Columbus was heavily surrounded by surveillance cameras, and he used them to help escape capture at least once.
When Franklin County SWAT did catch Cox and his girlfriend, they found 24 catalytic converters inside his home along with guns and a credit card-making machine.
Cox will be sentenced at March 8.