A Queens man was arrested by Nassau County police on Feb. 28 and charged with stealing more than 35 catalytic converters from vehicles throughout Nassau County in a span of eight months — nine last week alone, from vans leased by an AHRC Nassau facility in East Meadow.
Dorient Reid, 33, of Jamaica, pulled off the thefts from last June 21 to late February, police reported. The crimes occurred in several communities in Nassau County, and a police spokesman confirmed that the AHRC Nassau thefts were among them.
AHRC Nassau is a nonprofit organization that offers more than 2,000 people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities a range of services. It has two East Meadow locations, at 2555 Hempstead Turnpike, where the thefts occurred, and at the intersection of Front Street and East Meadow Avenue.
Before last week’s theft, a police spokeswoman told the Herald, the vans were parked in a municipal lot about 200 feet from the AHRC building on the afternoon of Feb. 26. At 8 a.m. the following day, the drivers returned to the vehicles and noticed that their catalytic converters were gone.
Rob Ciatto, the organization’s senior director of administration, said that the converters cost $2,000 to $2,400 each, and the loss is expected to cost the agency about $20,000. In the meantime, he said, AHRC Nassau coordinated with its other locations to transport people from East Meadow. “But that’s a hardship on all of our programs,” Ciatto said.
The agency’s Hempstead Turnpike location serves people who have more pressing medical issues, Ciatto said. Of its nine vans, he said, six are wheelchair accessible.
A catalytic converter is a component of a car’s exhaust system, that converts the gas in the exhaust to less-toxic pollutants. They are expensive pieces of equipment full of rare metals, which makes them popular targets for thieves,who sell them for scrap or to mechanics.
According to police, Reid was also responsible for approximately a dozen catalytic converter thefts in Rockville Center on Feb. 3 and 4. The police spokesman said that the converters were not recovered.
Reid, who was arrested at his home without incident, was charged with four counts of first-degree auto stripping, five counts of third-degree grand larceny, five counts of second-degree auto stripping, nine counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and five counts of third-degree auto stripping. He was arraigned on March 2 in First District Court in Hempstead, and pleaded not guilty. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 7.