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Air Tags Track Catalytic Converters, Thief

The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.

WARWICK, RI — A man tracked two stolen catalytic converters using Apple Air Tags, recovering one and finding the culprit at the Jefferson Boulevard Mobil Sept. 21 at 10:31 a.m., holding him till police arrived.

The man, Daniel Walser, 34, owner of Walser Mobile Refrigeration, 110 Brownlee Blvd., Warwick, RI was wrestling with the thief when Warwick Police found them Sept. 21 at the gas station.

When he arrived, Officer Normand Guilbert saw Walser holding down another man, later identified as William Hazard, 94 Grassmere Ave., East Providence, RI, who Guilbert recognized, according to the officer’s report.

Guilbert ordered Walser to step aside and placed Hazard in  handcuffs, then patted him down to check for weapons before seating him back on the  ground. When asked what the altercation was about, Walser explained that his business had been the victim of repeated catalytic converter thefts during the last few days.

Walser told the officer his fence had been cut, and that the thief had left the bolt cutters and a few loose catalytic converters behind after the first incident. He said he placed Apple Air tags inside two of the catalytic converters, hoping to catch the person responsible for the thefts.

Walser said the previous day he had followed one of the tags to the Accurate Converter Scrap Yard, 199 Branch Avenue, Providence. Once there, he called Providence Police to assist him in reviewing security video footage of the yard. In the footage, Walser saw Hazard arrive in an older tan Toyota (the same he had driven to the gas station) and sell the converter, according to the report.

Then on Sept. 21, Walser checked his tracking app and found the second tag was at the Mobil station. He drove to the station and confronted Hazard about the stolen converters (who was driving the same Toyota he’d seen at the scrapyard), Guilbert reported.

Hazard attempted to drive away, but Walser took the keys out of the Toyota. Hazard attempted to run and Walser wrestled him to the ground, calling for patrons to call the police, where Guilbert found them, according to his report.

Guilbert determined there had been no assault, that Walser had only been holding Hazard for police, the officer reported.

Officer Frank Montanaro, assisting on the call, read Hazard his rights and questioned him about the converter. Hazard wouldn’t answer directly, but shouted to Walser, “Let’s work this out. I can do work for you to pay this off,” but Walser did not accept the offer. When it was clear Hazard was not willing to let him work off the thefts, Montanaro placed him in a cruiser. Once in the cruiser, Hazard said, “When I get out, I’ll just go back over there, watch, watch.”

The converter was located in the Toyota.

Montanaro took Hazard to Warwick Police Headquarters, 99 Veterans Memorial Drive, where the officer charged him with Possession of Stolen Parts and Habitual Offender, Larceny, Shoplifting, or Receiving Stolen Goods, since he had been previously convicted three times, according to the report.


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