ALBEMARLE — Following an ongoing investigation by the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, two Albemarle residents that were arrested on March 3 in a catalytic converter theft case have each been charged with 45 more felonies.
Investigators conducted a search warrant at South Third Street on April 28 and found evidence that further incriminated Fuchee Matt Moua, 35, and his brother, Fucha Timothy Moua, 34, on charges from Stanly, Orange and Chatham counties.
“Converter thefts are definitely something that we’ve seen an increase in, but I think the volume with this case is unique,” Capt. Chris Huneycutt of the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office told SCJ, adding that he hasn’t typically seen cases covering such a large distance. “A lot of these charges are from other counties and did not originate here. We executed a search warrant at a house and some evidence was recovered that I believe helped a number of other jurisdictions that had also been working cases on these people.”
While they have been in jail since March, the Moua brothers were additionally given 15 counts of felony larceny of motor vehicle parts, 15 counts of felony injuring property to obtain nonferrous metals, and 15 counts of felony conspiracy.
Back in March, the two were each charged with seven counts of felony larceny of motor vehicle parts, seven counts of felony injuring property to obtain nonferrous metals, and seven counts of felony conspiracy.
Each face a total of 66 felony charges pertaining to their catalytic converter theft scheme.
Huneycutt said that catalytic converter theft has been “a nationwide issue within the past year,” attributing the drastic rise in theft cases to the rising prices in the precious-metals market. He recalled an internal study indicating that the city of Charlotte has seen a 280% increase in converter thefts during the first 90 days of 2021 compared to the first 90 days of 2020.
“People who are good at it can do it in under a minute — you’re talking about a couple bolts and a few cuts with some type of sawing device and you’ve removed it,” Huneycutt said. “It’s a very costly thing for the vehicle owner.”
Another contributing factor to converter theft is that the parts contain no vehicle identification numbers. Police can often figure out what type of vehicle it came off of, but afterwards have no way of tracing the specific vehicle.
As far as theft prevention, law enforcement officials indicate that leaving a vehicle in a well-lit area, a garage, or a location with a security system are all factors in helping to deter these types of crimes.
On Aug. 4, 2020, Fuchee Moua was also one of three Albemarle residents who was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; the charge was the result of a Stanly County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division search warrant where 21.3 grams of methamphetamine was confiscated at a St. Martin Road residence.