Suspects charged in catalytic converter thefts

Feb. 1—TRAVERSE CITY—Two suspects were charged in connection with a string of catalytic converter thefts that have plagued the county in the past few months, Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Randy Fewless reports.

Erin Newstead, 44, from Interlochen, and Kylie Sevener, 29, from Traverse City, were arranged in the 86th District Court on multiple charges, court records showed.

The two were caught on Jan. 17 while they were attempting to steal a catalytic converter, police said.

Newstead was charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, possession of methamphetamine and ecstasy, possession of fentanyl, larceny with a motor vehicle and second-offense habitual offender.

Sevener was charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, larceny of a motor vehicle and third-offense habitual offender.

Their arrests came after the thefts of more than 10 catalytic converters in January, the police said.

Detective Sgt. Jarrod Bilacic estimated that between $80,000 and $100,000 worth of catalytic converters were stolen in Grand Traverse County from mid-December to mid-January.

Some vehicles, like trucks, have two separate catalytic converters, so these thefts can cause up to $6,000 in damage to one vehicle, Bilacic said.

Based on his findings so far, Bilacic said Newstead and Sevener are suspected of stealing converters as many as four nights a week, working together as a team to accomplish it.

Bilacic and Fewless said the investigation is still open, and more people could be prosecuted in connection with this operation. They confirmed that it is also illegal to purchase stolen catalytic converters.

Bilacic said he’s hoping that severe charges will discourage people from attempting to steal catalytic converters.

“We appreciate the support of the prosecutor’s office with these charges,” Fewless said. “These cases take a long time to investigate, and we’re glad to see some justice served.”

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