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Buckhannon man arrested for allegedly stealing catalytic converters from car lots

BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County man was arrested after allegedly stealing catalytic converters from several vehicles housed in two different car lots.

Joshua D. Friend, 40, of Buckhannon, was arrested for grand larceny, a felony; petit larceny, a misdemeanor; and injuring or tampering with a motor vehicle, also a misdemeanor.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Trooper Z.M. Lewis with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on Friday, Oct. 8 at about 4:30 p.m., Lewis received a complaint from Donald Hurst in reference to a theft which had allegedly occurred at his business, Hurst Auto Sales. He said two of his vehicles had their catalytic converters removed the night of Tuesday, Oct. 5. and told police officers he had captured video footage via a surveillance camera of the crime taking place, the complaint states.

Lewis arrived on scene at Hurst Auto Sales, spoke with the victim and viewed video surveillance from his security cameras. While on scene the victim showed Lewis both vehicles which had been damaged, and Lewis identified the first vehicle as a 2007 Toyota Tacoma and the second vehicle as a 2004 Toyota Tacoma.

Both vehicles are owned by the victim, and the stolen catalytic converters were valued at $200 each for a total theft of $400. Upon reviewing the security camera footage, Lewis noticed a golden-colored, older model van with a red passenger-side sliding door, which was later identified as a Chrysler Town & Country van, parked around Hurst Auto Sales. Lewis also reportedly saw two males — one later identified as Friend – exit the van and approach the above-mentioned vehicles.

The security camera footage did not capture the damage done to the 2004 Tacoma; however, Lewis saw both men around and underneath the 2007 Tacoma with a flashlight in the common area where a catalytic converter would be installed, the complaint alleges. After a short period of time, both offenders returned to the van and left the scene.

On the following day, Saturday, Oct. 9, at approximately 4 p.m. Lewis spoke with Trooper First Class F.J. Turansky about the incident, and Turansky said Friend reportedly admitted to the theft and damage to both vehicles, the complaint states. Turansky also had Friend under arrest for a non-related incident. Turansky had interviewed Friend and asked about the incident that occurred at Hurst Auto Sales, to which Friend allegedly stated, “I cut them off,” according to the report.

In a separate complaint in the magistrate clerk’s office filed several days earlier by Turansky, on Saturday, Oct. 2, Turanksy was called to Straight Up Used Auto, located near the intersection of Brushy Fork and Stoney Run roads. Upon arrival, Turansky spoke with Sean Lyons, owner of the automotive repair shop, who said that morning he had noticed a grey Subaru Outback was jacked up and realized someone had cut two catalytic converters worth $1,800 off the vehicle.

He then noticed someone had cut one additional catalytic converter worth $900 off a blue Ford F-150 that is owned by one of Straight Up Used Auto’s customers. During the investigation, Turansky conducted an interview with Friend, and during the interview Friend said he and another male individual rode their bicycles to Straight Up Used Auto. While there, the other individual allegedly cut the two converters off the Subaru while Friend kept watch; Friend then allegedly cut the converter off the Ford F-150 and then both men left the property, according to the file.

Upshur County Magistrate Mark Davis set bail at $3,000 cash only on the two misdemeanor charges and $10,000 cash only on the grand larceny felony charge. Friend remained incarcerated as of Tuesday, according to the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority website.

The penalty for a conviction of grand larceny is confinement in a state penitentiary for not less than one nor more than 10 years or confinement in jail for not more than one year and a fine of up to $2,500. The penalty for petit larceny is confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, a fine of up to $2,500 or both, while the penalty for injuring or tampering with a motor vehicle is confinement for not more than six months, a fine of not more than $500 or both.

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