DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — A DeSoto County man is facing theft charges Tuesday after police say they caught him with stolen catalytic converters.

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown was arrested after a witness spotted him cutting a catalytic converter off a car in a hotel parking lot off Highway 64.

An employee at Home 2 Suites near Wolfchase Mall didn’t want to be identified but told WREG a very attentive hotel guest caught a catalytic converter theft in progress Sunday night.

“They said that they had heard the noise..the grinding noise it makes whenever they’re cutting off the part and they said, ‘oh, I bet that’s somebody cutting off a catalytic converter,” the employee said. “So they drove around the parking lot and actually caught them doing it. Luckily they were able to take a picture of them and a picture of their license plate for the police.”

Police determined the suspect vehicle was a 2011 Hyundai with Mississippi plates.

Undercover officers spotted the SUV around at a gas station at Poplar and Ridgeway and identified 25-year-old Andrew Brown as the driver.

Inside the SUV, officers spotted two catalytic converters, a portable power saw, a loose blade, and a wrench. Brown was charged with possession of burglary tools and theft of property valued from $1,000 to $2,500.

The incident report showed police questioned the owner of the SUV but does not indicate if she was charged.

Larry Walker, the owner of Mid-Town Auto Parts and Salvage, says it’s a risk people are willing to take.

“If they know what they’re doing they can come and go in a minute,” Walker said.

Though he can’t sell used catalytic converters, he says the law hasn’t stopped people from selling stolen units and profiting from the precious metals inside.

“Legally the only way to buy or sell a converter is you have to be an auto dealer and there are places that are buying converters from people who are not dealers and that’s been the hardest thing to regulate,” Walker said.

According to the police report, the catalytic converters recovered Sunday night were valued at around $2,000.