Man suspected in auto parts theft at UT garage tries to cover his tracks by spray-painting his own car, police say

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UTHSC campus police say a man painted his entire car with black spray paint and attached drive-out tags, but that didn’t stop them from connecting the vehicle to a recent auto part theft at the school.

UTHSC police said Steven Reynolds, 29, was arrested after one of their officers spotted his car in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Pauline Street.

Motel 6 on Pauline

The officer said he saw Reynolds attaching a drive-out tag to a 1996 Toyota Avalon and noticed the car had similar markings and scratches as an Avalon used in a catalytic converter theft in the Hamilton Eye Institute garage last Tuesday.

Police said Reynolds told them he had just purchased the Avalon and bought the drive-out tags from someone staying at the motel.

Hamilton Eye Institue parking garage on Madison Avenue

UTHSC Police said the Avalon appeared to be freshly painted with black spray paint, and they found battery-operated cutting tools in the back of the car.

The campus police officers said they found other burglary tools inside his motel room.

The officers said surveillance video provided by Motel 6 also showed Reynolds driving into the motel lot a few minutes after the theft at the UT parking garage. The garage on Madison is less than a half-mile away.

After Reynolds was taken into custody, UTHSC police say he admitted he had stolen catalytic converters in the past, but said he did not steal the one at the UT garage.

Steven Reynolds

Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise across the country. The thieves are after the precious metal inside, worth up to $1,200 an ounce.

The cost for the victim to replace the catalytic converter is about $1,500.

Reynolds has been charged with theft of property and altering, falsifying, or forging auto plates.

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