May 26—Two men caught with catalytic converters in Nicollet County in March are now charged with theft after one of the converters was confirmed stolen from Mankato.
Ryan Gabriel Luckhardt, 36, of Hutchinson, and McKenzie Michael Notch, 26, of Granite Falls, were charged with felony theft this week in Blue Earth County District Court.
The men were charged with felony receiving stolen property and other crimes in Nicollet County in March.
A Nicollet County sheriff's deputy checked on a suspicious vehicle the early morning of March 10 and found the defendants inside covered in grease. Drugs, eight catalytic converters and saws and other theft tools also were found, court documents say.
One of the catalytic converters was new and was later matched to a pickup at a car dealership in Mankato.
Notch allegedly admitted to an investigator he helped Luckhardt take three converters from Mankato and three from New Ulm and he sells the vehicle parts to scrap yards.
Seven missing catalytic converters were reported in the region on or around March 10: five in Mankato, one in rural Nicollet County and one in New Ulm, plus an attempted theft in New Ulm.
The new charges come as the St. Peter Police Department seeks the public's help identifying two more catalytic converter thieves in that city. Two men in a Hummer are suspected in a theft early Sunday morning. Surveillance images of the suspects are on the department's Facebook page.
Eighteen catalytic converter thefts were reported in St. Peter in late April and early May.
A jump in the scrap value of the vehicle part is driving an increase in thefts locally and across the country.