GREENWICH, N.Y. -- A Greenfield man accused of stealing catalytic converters from car dealerships in several counties is behind bars.
Police say 30-year-old Ryan Mullen is charged with Grand Larceny and Criminal Mischief after an investigation that included numerous police agencies as well as the help of quick thinking employees at Whalen Chevrolet in Greenwich.
Whalen Chevrolet has never had catalytic converters stolen from the dealership since it opened, but that all changed last week when workers started one of their trucks.
"We went to pull it out of our reconditioning lot," said Whalen Chevrolet president George Whalen Jr. "And immediately noticed that the exhaust was loud."
A catalytic converter is a car part that contains valuable metal and is essential to the exhaust system.
"When you start it up without that on it, it sounds like a race car it sounds very loud," said Whalen Jr.
Whalen Jr. says he knew his dealership had been robbed as soon as they started a truck.
"Once we knew one was missing, the likelihood that more were missing," said Whalen Jr. Three trucks at Whalen Chevrolet had their converters cut off with a saw.
Police say during the past several months at least four dealerships in three different counties had been targeted. Since nearby dealerships had been robbed recently, and Whalen Chevrolet employees were on high alert.
"We were kind of on the lookout for it," said Whalen Jr. "But you never think it's going to happen to you."
"We're probably out three thousand dollars, and were one of the lucky ones, there's stores that they've stolen as many as 10, 20,or 30 of these things," he added.
But it was recently installed surveillance equipment that helped Whalen Chevrolet employees identify the suspect.
"The surveillance that we put in helped nab this guy," said Whalen Jr.
Whalen Chevrolet sales manager Brendon Serritella looked through the video and noticed someone looking under cars on the Fourth of July.
"We got a good idea of the vehicle [and] a good glimpse of the person," said Serritella.
He then noticed someone matching that evidence later driving through the parking lot.
"Nobody is really driving through looking at cars as late as they did," said Serritella.
A few days later Serritella says he spotted the same vehicle in the area.
"As I was leaving the guy pulled out in front of me, and I was like, ‘you got to be kidding me,'" said Serritella.
He took a picture of the suspects' car and license plate and sent it to police.
"Within 24 hours they caught the guy trying to do it somewhere else," said Serritella.
The arrest has George Whalen Jr. feeling relieved knowing someone has been charged for the crime.
"Big sigh of relief and so should everybody else," said Whalen Jr.