Dec. 2—A Greensburg man accused of leading police on a seven-mile, high-speed chase that started in in the city and ended near Murrysville was arrested after an officer recognized his car parked at a grocery store and was able to identify him, according to court documents.
Greensburg patrolman Hank Fontana Jr. was investigating a complaint about a suspicious vehicle parked behind a North Main Street business on Nov. 5 when he said he saw a man later identified as Michael P. Kiselka, 26, who appeared to be cutting a catalytic converter off a box truck.
Kiselka climbed in his car and sped away north on Business Route 66, Fontana wrote in court documents.
"(Kiselka) nearly struck several vehicles including a school bus, illegally passed 28 vehicles, failed to stop at two steady red signals and drove at speeds of approximately 108 mph," Fontana wrote.
Fontana ended the pursuit after more than 7 miles after his patrol car had a flat tire, according to court records.
However, police caught Kiselka when he was later identified and taken into custody Nov. 11 when Fontana recognized Kiselka's 2003 black Kia parked at the Shop 'n Save on Route 66, just north of Greensburg.
During a search of the car, Fontana said he found a battery-powered power saw on the back seat. That type of saw could be used to cut metal, Fontana said.
Later that day, police seized a recently-cut catalytic converter from Kiselka's residence at 407 Walnut Ave. during a search. Kiselka is a mechanic, according to court documents.
He was taken into custody by Millvale police and was held in the Allegheny County Jail on other, unrelated theft charges in several communities, including Munhall and North Versailles, before being transferred to the Westmoreland lockup, police said.
On Wednesday, Kiselka was arraigned on multiple criminal charges including escape, fleeing and eluding, receiving stolen property, possessing instruments of crime, theft; 29 counts of reckless endangerment and 123 summary traffic violations, including driving on a suspended license.
District Judge Chris Flanigan ordered him held without bond, noting in court papers Kiselka "appears to be a flight risk and danger to the community."
Kiselka did not have an attorney listed in court documents.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a nonprofit devoted to combating insurance fraud and vehicle theft, reported that there has been a significant increase in catalytic converter thefts across the country since the pandemic started in March 2020.
According to the NICB, a catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler along with the exhaust system. It is designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gases.
Manufacturers use platinum, palladium or rhodium in the devices. Values of these precious metals have increased significantly in recent years.
As of December 2020, rhodium was valued at $14,500 per ounce, palladium at $2,336 per ounce and platinum was $1,061 per ounce. Typically, recyclers will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter, the NICB reported.
On Oct. 2, state police said thieves removed catalytic converters from 35 vehicles parked at Valero Century RV, along Route 66 in Salem, just north of Delmont. State police at Kiski are still investigating the case.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .