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Alleged ringleader behind catalytic converter heists had thieves targeting cars across Baton Rouge

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BATON ROUGE - A man suspected of organizing a criminal operation that targeted catalytic converters throughout the capital area was booked on additional charges Monday.

Newly released arrest documents reveal Matthew Gibson, who was arrested earlier this month when police found more than 100 stolen catalytic converters at his home, had a network of thieves who were stealing the parts from parked cars around the area throughout last year. 

According to the report, Gibson was first implicated back in October after one of his suspected associates, Gregory Smith, was pulled over in a truck with a switched license plate. Police said Gibson pulled up during the stop, claiming the truck belonged to him and that Smith was a friend. Inside that vehicle, police later found a battery-powered saw used to steal the converters and about three dozen new sawblades.

Both Smith and Gibson were taken in for questioning, during which Gibson admitted that he regularly bought converters off Smith but claimed the parts he bought and sold were all legally acquired. A search of Smith's phone later revealed that he would steal catalytic converters and bring them to Gibson exclusively.

Three suspects arrested in recent months and tied to the converter thefts admitted to their involvement in the crime ring, and all said they were stealing the parts for Gibson, who allegedly supplied them with tools to carry out the heists. Once they had gathered enough converters, the suspects said Gibson would then load the parts into his truck and bring them to a warehouse where he would offload them about once a week. 

When deputies searched Gibson's property on Stonecroft Avenue this month, they reportedly found 101 stolen converters valued at roughly $150,000 in total. Inside his home, officers also found illegal drugs, a gun and a ledger listing off the "pros and cons" of stealing the converters. 

Gibson was booked Monday on additional charges of theft and drug possession. 

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