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Couple charged in thefts of catalytic converters from Toyota plant

A man contracted to work for a major central Kentucky employer now stands accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of items from it.

Georgetown Police say 29-year-old Darren Baker, along with his girlfriend, 25-year-old Callie Ballard, stole catalytic converters from the Toyota plant over a period of several months.

Police say employees finally noticed Baker inside the plant at odd times. They say he stole between $20,000 and $40,000 dollars in parts, then sold them on the street for money.

“This is a pretty rare occurrence,” Lt. Robert Swanigan of Georgetown Police said. “The security measures Toyota has in place are pretty extensive.”

Police say the thefts began in September 2010.

The couple was arrested Saturday morning after a Toyota employee noticed Baker and realized he shouldn’t be at the plant at all.

“She (Ballard) was out in the car,” Swanigan said. “Apparently after he got caught, he sent a text message to hide the stash.”

Police found Ballard after they say she dumped two duffel bags full of converters behind a business.

After the couple was arrested, police say they found out Baker worked for a company that did contract work for Toyota, called Loss Control Services.

“His badge access hadn’t been removed by the contractor,” Swanigan said. “He was utilizing that badge going into the plant.”

Police say the street value of the converters is between $400 and $500 each.

Police say the couple often sold them for as little as $35.

Toyota officials said they won’t comment on the situation until the investigation is over.

Police say they’re looking at surveillance video from Toyota, trying to figure out how many times Baker went into the building.

They also say Toyota is doing inventory to figure out how many parts are missing.

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