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A Milwaukee man is facing a decade in prison after he allegedly cut the catalytic converters out of vehicles in Union Grove.

John Hodapp, 53, was charged Wednesday in Racine County Circuit Court with two felony counts of removal of a major part of a vehicle and two misdemeanor counts each of theft and criminal damage to property. All charges carry the enhancer of being party to a crime. If convicted, Hodapp faces up to 10 years in prison or up to $60,000 in fines. Because he has both misdemeanor and criminal convictions within the last five years, he could have up to 16 years added to any sentence he receives.

Criminal complaint: stolen catalytic converters

According to the criminal complaint, several catalytic converters were cut out of vehicles on September 24, 2021, in the parking lot of Paragon Community Services on 11th Avenue. Video surveillance shows a white sedan with distinct front-end damage pulling into the parking lot before an individual exits and walks toward the cars from which the parts were removed. A red blade was found under one of the cars.

Hodapp was riding in the white sedan in St. Francis when it was pulled over in October 2021, the complaint reads. Inside the car, officers found seven catalytic converters, saws, saw blades, and other tools. Two of the car parts were consistent with the ones stolen from vehicles at Paragon Community Services. Hodapp denied involvement in the thefts, but the phone of another passenger showed text messages with Hodapp, and his phone pinged to a tower not more than a quarter-mile away from Paragon the night of the theft of the catalytic converters.

Charges against Hodapp were originally filed in May 2022, and a $5,000 warrant was issued for his arrest. At the time, Hodapp was in Milwaukee County Jail facing similar charges in two separate cases that are still open and had to be transported from Milwaukee to Racine for his initial appearance where he was assigned a $750 cash bond. He will next be in Racine County Court on August 3 for his preliminary hearing.

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