They came, they sawed, they were conquered.
Cops nailed four crooks accused of sawing exhaust pipe emission converters from 11 vehicles —including two vans used by the local senior center — on residential Throggs Neck streets in the middle of the night Tuesday, Nov. 19.
The suspects from Mount Vernon and Edenwald used power saws to remove thousands of dollars worth of parts from vehicles on Schley and Balcom avenues, according to a criminal complaint.
But with an assist from an eagle-eyed car owner, cops caught the thieves redhanded.
Police were called to the scene after a resident on Balcom Avenue near Dewey Avenue spotted someone meddling with the exhaust pipe of his Toyota Corolla at around 2 a.m, according to the complaint.
When cops pulled over a white Acura at the scene they found the power saws and metal blades in the passenger compartment and a treasure trove of stolen parts in its trunk — 11 catalytic converters sliced from exhaust pipes in the area, police said.
The stolen converters are pollution-limiting devices required by state law to be attached to the exhaust pipe of every motor vehicle. They range in price from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000.
Out of town thieves
The four suspects were arraigned on Wednesday, Nov. 20, charged with auto stripping, criminal possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools.
They were identified as Morris Kemar, 26, and Raymond Thompson, 23, both of Mt. Vernon, and 27-year-old Donald Monfries and 20-year-old Junior Stevens of Edenwald.
The four men were released and are due back in court on January 9.
Senior vans looted
The thieves’ bounty included two converters from vans at a nearby senior housing project on Schley Avenue that were used to shuttle around its members, said Amy Chalfy, director of programs at JASA, the company that runs the service.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca had allocated $51,000 for one of the new senior vans just a month ago.
“These vans are essential to seniors in my community, and I am appalled that someone would attempt to rob them of this service,” he said.
The vans serve seniors who live miles away and otherwise would have no way to reach the center for its daytime activities, Chalfy said.
She added that she expects no delay in the organization’s services, though they may have to rent out another van for the short term.
“You feel disheartened when something like that happens,” she said, “but it’s a setback we will overcome.”