Catalytic Converter Thieves Caught

Photo by Chris Lundy

STAFFORD – In what has become a more common crime within the tri-state area, catalytic converter thefts were noted in the township earlier this month but police quickly caught the theives.

  From  Feb. 8 thru 10 Stafford police received several reports of catalytic converters stolen out of vehicles at the Barlow Buick GMC Dealership during evening hours.   

 Patrolman Albert Haldenwang, with assistance from the evening patrol shift conducted proactive surveillance on Feb. 12 at the Barlow Buick GMC dealership during the suspected hours of theft.  During that time Officer Haldenwang observed a suspicious vehicle stop behind the dealership on Jennings Road, immediately followed by the sounds of an electric saw cutting metal in the parking lot.  

  Township police approached the subject, who was actively cutting a catalytic converter out of a GMC Acadia in the lot.

The subject, identified as Richard Roccia Jr., 44, Manahawkin, was arrested and transported to police headquarters. 

 It was soon discovered that Roccia had an accomplice, described as a subject named “Steven driving a black Volvo” with the vague description given, patrol units continued to search the area.  

  A short time after, a vehicle matching that description was located in the area by Patrolman John Reed.  Officer Reed made contact with the driver identified as Steven Weber, 54, Little Egg Harbor.  After a brief investigation it was determined that Weber was Roccia’s accomplice to the crime, and was arrested.

 Both men were charged with burglary, theft, criminal mischief, possession of burglars tools and conspiracy.

The arresting officers were Patrolmen Conner and Reed.