Ohio man charged in months-long theft investigation

Ohio

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith says James Howerton, 47 of The Plains was arrested for theft, breaking and entering, and possession of criminal tools, all felonies in the 5th degree. Sept. 16, 2020 (Photo Courtesy: Athens County Sheriff’s Office)

UPDATE 11:30 a.m., Sept. 18, 2020: Three more men have been arrested related to an investigation into stolen catalytic converters in Athens County.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith says on Sept. 17, three men were allegedly involved in a recent theft of catalytic converters from Athens Transmission that happened Sept. 15.

Robert L. Sheppard, 39, of Athens, and Tyler L. Ball, 35, of Nelsonville were arrested and charged with breaking and entering, theft and possession of criminal tools, all felonies of the fifth degree. Jonathan L Westerviller, 34, of The Plains was arrested and charged with complicity to theft, a felony of the fifth degree, according to the sheriff.

Left to right: Robert L. Sheppard, 39, of Athens, Tyler L. Ball, 35, of Nelsonville and Jonathan L Westerviller, 34, of The Plains were arrested in connection with an investigation into stolen catalytic converters at Athens Transmission. (Photos Courtesy: The Athens County Sheriff’s Office)

All three were taken to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail without incident. The investigation is ongoing, and Smith says additional charges are expected.

Smith says the quality of camera footage from Athens Transmission was critical in the investigation, leading to the arrests.


ATHENS COUNTY, OH (WOWK) – An Ohio man is facing charges after an investigation into stolen catalytic converters in Athens County.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith says James Howerton, 47 of The Plains was arrested for theft, breaking and entering, and possession of criminal tools, all felonies in the 5th degree.

The investigation has been ongoing after an “overwhelming rash” of catalytic converters were stolen over the past several months in the Athens County area, according to the sheriff. Deputies were able to identify two male suspects through video surveillance from a local business where the sheriff’s office says seven catalytic converters were stolen on one occasion.

Howerton was arrested following a search warrant for a home in The Plains. During the search, deputies said they found suspected drug paraphernalia, and additional charges are expected following the lab results.

Smith says an additional suspect has been identified, and charges against the suspect are expected. Howerton is being held on a $35,000 bond.

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