2 arrested, charged with theft of catalytic converter

catalytic converter thefts in Green Bay area
catalytic converter thefts in Green Bay area(Brown County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 10:04 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Brown County court officials say two people with active arrest warrants are in custody and have been formally charged after allegedly stealing catalytic converters.

According to the criminal complaint, police officers were sent to a Kwik Trip on E. Mason Street shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18 for a welfare check.

A man was reportedly passed out at the steering wheel of a vehicle parked near the gas station, and when officers arrived, they found two people inside - a man in the driver’s seat and a woman in the backseat.

Once on scene, officers woke both the man and the woman up, and police say they found a pipe used for marijuana in the woman’s pocket.

The woman has been identified as 23-year-old Samantha Scharenbroch.

Officials say Scharenbroch became emotional and then started crying, saying she was upset she was going to jail, and had several other court proceedings she was dealing with at the time.

According to the complaint, Scharenbroch had an active warrant out of De Pere.

Meanwhile, the driver, identified as 28-year-old Christopher Benz, had an active arrest warrant from the Department of Corrections.

After searching the vehicle, officers said they found a large amount of tools, including an electric saw and replacement blades, as well as a box filled with several vehicle brake rotors. They also say they found a catalytic converter in the trunk, as well as the exhaust tubing, which had appeared to be cut from another vehicle.

Police say they knew there had been a large amount of catalytic converter thefts in the area.

As Action 2 News has previously reported, Green Bay Police have responded to about 14 catalytic converter theft incidents since April.

RELATED: Creativity required to thwart catalytic converter thieves

Police say most vehicles hit were parked outside a business, and the catalytic converter, designed to convert toxic gases into something less harmful, were removed in the blink of an eye.

When police began asking questions, Scharenbroch said she made her living by scrapping metal, and said the parts in the car came from a shop that Benz’ friend owns. However, she told police she had no idea where the shop was, who owned it, or how they came to possess the parts.

Later that morning, an officer was sent to the Green Bay Area Public School Auxiliary Services Building, where a person reported two of the Chevy Express cutaway trucks owned by the district had had their catalytic converters stolen.

Officials say the thefts happened on Saturday, and security video of the vehicles used during the incident was driven by a man, and a woman was a passenger.

The complaint states the vehicle matched the one Benz and Scharenbroch were found passed out inside of.

RELATED: Police warn of uptick in catalytic converter thefts

Online court records show Benz has been formally charged with one felony and three misdemeanors, all with repeater and Party to a Crime modifiers:

  1. Criminal Damage to Property (Over $2,500) - Felony
  2. Theft-Movable Property <= $2,500 - Misdemeanor
  3. Criminal Damage to Property - Misdemeanor
  4. Theft-Movable Property <= $2,500 - Misdemeanor

Online records have not been updated as of this time to show when his future court date is.

Meanwhile, Scharenbroch’s court records show she has been charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors:

  1. Criminal Damage to Property (Over $2,500) - Felony
  2. Theft-Movable Property <= $2,500 - Misdemeanor
  3. Criminal Damage to Property - Misdemeanor
  4. Theft-Movable Property <- $2,500 - Misdemeanor
  5. Bail Jumping - Felony
  6. Bail Jumping - Felony
  7. Bail Jumping - Felony

Her next court date - an Adjourned Initial Appearance - is scheduled for 2 p.m. on July 16.

RELATED: Milwaukee thieves targeting catalytic converters

Copyright 2021 WBAY. All rights reserved.