Multimillion-Dollar Catalytic Converter Theft Ring Dismantled in Bucks County, PA

TDI-Towing-PA-catalytic-converter-theft-ring
During the investigation, a detective saw a catalytic converter being removed from a stolen car at TDI Towing.

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office on June 27 announced the dismantling of a multimillion-dollar organized criminal enterprise that specialized in the theft of catalytic converters throughout the Delaware Valley region in Pennsylvania. 

A nearly yearlong investigation resulted in the charging of Philadelphia tow yard TDI Towing, along with 10 adult individuals and one juvenile, with corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and related charges. All but one of the defendants have been arraigned. 

Over the past few years, the theft of catalytic converters has skyrocketed in Bucks County, like most of nation, because of the money they can fetch at scrap yards. From 2020 to 2023, thousands of catalytic converters have been stolen out of Bucks County, costing consumers millions of dollars in damages and repairs. 

Because of the prevalence of thefts, law enforcement began to focus not only on individual thieves or “cutters,” but also the organizations or businesses purchasing the stolen catalytic converters. 

Detectives identified TDI Towing at 2335 Wheatsheaf Lane in Philadelphia as the main buyer of catalytic converters stolen in Bucks and Montgomery counties. At its peak, TDI Towing was paying a minimum of $10,000 a night to thieves coming to the tow yard to sell stolen catalytic converters. On some nights, there would be 30 transactions, with some thieves showing up more than once. On several occasions, TDI Towing paid $1,000 for a single converter. 

While TDI Towing advertised itself as operating during daytime hours, people would arrive all throughout the night to sell catalytic converters. The tow yard was so popular with thieves that in one case, a catalytic converter was sawed off from a stolen vehicle right outside the yard. 

Law enforcement agencies conducted thousands of hours of surveillance at TDI Towing, conducted controlled sales at the tow yard and used other techniques to identify catalytic converter thieves and those at the tow yard who purchased the stolen goods. 

The investigation found TDI Towing had been in the business of buying catalytic converters for at least three years, and during that time it bought an average of 175 catalytic converters a week---a total of 27,300 during those three years. TDI employees paid an average of $300 per catalytic converter, for a total of nearly $8.2 million during the three years.

TDI Towing was operated by Michael Williams, 52, of Philadelphia. Most of the organization had some family connection to him. Employees at the tow yard included his sister-in-law, Lisa Davalos, 47, of Philadelphia; Eric Simpson, 41, of Philadelphia; Michael Bruce, 30, of Sewell, NJ; Kevin Schwartz, 33, of Philadelphia; Patrick Hopkins, 24, of Philadelphia; and a 17-year-old-juvenile. 

Every week, and sometimes more than once a week, Williams would take the catalytic converters from TDI Towing for resale and profit at another location, the investigation found. He took about 50 catalytic converters per trip. The catalytic converter thieves, known as “cutters,” included Michael Evangelist, 35, of Philadelphia; Anthony Davalos Sr., 43, of Philadelphia; Richard Allan Page, 39, of Warminster; and Gary Shirley, 48, of Hatboro.

Bucks County Detectives are attempting to locate Page. Page is missing fingers on his left hand. If anyone has seen him, contact Bucks County detectives at 215-348-6354 or www.bucksda.org

There are several individuals who have not yet been identified. 

While this case is being closed by presentment, the investigation will remain ongoing and additional persons may be charged for their involvement in the theft and trafficking of catalytic converters.

TDI Towing and its employees were charged with corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, theft by unlawful taking, theft of catalytic converter, theft by receiving stolen property, possession of an instrument of crime, and criminal use of a communication facility. 

Williams and TDI Towing are charged with an additional count of corrupt organizations, as they controlled the enterprise. 

Anthony Davalos had been wanted after he was convicted of stealing 22 catalytic converters and failing to appear for sentencing. While on the run in June 2021, he attempted to run down a Lower Southampton detective who tried to stop him and another suspect from stealing another catalytic converter.

Police identified Davalos as the driver. Davalos had previously worked at TDI Towing but was let go because Williams wanted to avoid the unwanted attention from law enforcement. 

Davalos was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count each of criminal conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking, theft of catalytic converter, theft by receiving stolen property, possession of an instrument of crime, fleeing or attempting to elude police, recklessly endangering another person and simple assault.

Three dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Philadelphia and New Jersey took part in this collaborative investigation. 

Source: Bucks County District Attorney's Office

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