LONGWOOD, Fla. – After a months-long investigation, Longwood police say they finally caught the culprits behind a string of stolen car parts.
Officers said Charles David Melvin and Leana Marie Allen have stolen at least 20 catalytic converters within Longwood and were finally caught in the act on Monday.
According to an arrest report, an officer heard the sound of metal being cut around 1:40 a.m. while on patrol. He traced the sound to the area west of Bennett Drive on North Street, where he saw a silver Mercury Cougar making a right turn, the report reads.
Keeping an eye on the vehicle, the officer said a person with a white shirt ran out of the passenger side vehicle toward the back of a business. The car slowly drove away, according to the report.
Records show the officer called for other units to set up a perimeter. As officers neared the business, they found a homeless man sleeping in his car who told investigators someone recently ran through the parking lot and would stop at a vehicle, then run back to the Mercury Cougar, then run back another vehicle at the business, according to the arrest report.
Officers continued to scope out the parking lot when they found a man, identified as Melvin under a pick-up truck with a battery-operated saw and metal shavings on the ground.
Melvin immediately told authorities he was not doing anything wrong and was under the pick-up truck to hide from officers, records show.
Meantime, officers stopped the driver of the silver car, then identified to be Allen. She denied stopping in the roadway and that Melvin came up to the vehicle, telling officers she was just at the store, according to an arrest report.
According to police, Melvin eventually admitted he and Allen, who he calls his wife, were homeless and scoping out industrial areas to take catalytic converters to sell, adding they make anywhere from $100 to $800 off of them. That night, Allen was accompanying him because he needed a new saw and she brought it to him, the report reads.
Officers say after catching the two mid-burglary and with tools meant for theft, the pair are now each facing burglary and larceny grand theft charges.
The couple is being held at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility on $9,000 bond each. They are each scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday afternoon.