ATTLEBORO (CBS) – MBTA police hope they have stopped what they call an “epidemic” of thefts at commuter parking lots on the South Shore. Thieves have been stealing catalytic converters from parked vehicles at an alarming rate, more than 100 thefts in the last couple of years.
This week they arrested 37-year-old Tina Fager and 31-year-old Jamie Neto, allegedly caught in the act. Fager had already been arrested with her husband 39-year-old Dennis Fager on January 23, but made bail. That’s when police say they began trailing her and her new accomplice.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports
In the time it took to make the arrests the trio wracked up plenty of victims including Laurie Barkowsky of Kingston who had two catalytic converters stolen. The first was cut from a pickup truck, and while it was being repaired she used the family van.
“Two weeks later I got into the van and it was the exact same noise. I said you’ve got to be kidding me.” While insurance covered the repairs, she had to pay costly deductibles of five hundred dollars each.
Another commuter, Deb Butler, was hit three times and with a Toyota Sequoia, thieves were able to get two catalytic converters each time. “Being a single mom with three kids it was difficult. There were out of pocket costs for car rentals and deductibles. I was frustrated, I felt so violated,” she said.
MBTA Police Deputy Chief Lewis Best says the anti-pollution parts have precious metals which can be sold for up to $200 at salvage yards. “This type of crime is driven by precious metal prices which can be very valuable.” He also says the thefts were fueling a drug habit. He calls the arrests “significant” and says it’s a problem nationwide as thieves hit at all times of the day looking for quick cash.
But Laurie Barkowsky says she no longer parks in the lot. “I started taking the bus for at least two or three weeks after it happened the second time,” she said.