Habitual offender sentenced to 6 years in prison for catalytic converter thefts

William Henry Bagby - Submitted photo
William Henry Bagby - Submitted photo

A local habitual offender was sentenced to six years in prison followed by eight years of probation Monday after pleading guilty to multiple break-ins involving the thefts of catalytic converters last year.

William Henry Bagby, 35, who lists a Central Avenue address, pleaded guilty in Garland County Circuit Court to one felony count of theft of property and 12 felony counts of breaking or entering and was sentenced to 14 years in prison, with eight years suspended, and ordered to pay $14,000 in restitution in the form of a civil judgment.

An accomplice, Angela Jo Johnson, 44, of Hot Springs, had pleaded guilty on Sept. 8, 2022, to one count of criminal mischief, one count of theft of property and 12 counts of breaking or entering and was sentenced to six years' supervised probation. A petition to revoke her probation was later filed and a warrant for her arrest has been issued.

Bagby is classified as a habitual offender having been previously convicted on June 17, 2019, of possession of meth with purpose to deliver, and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, all felonies.

According to the probable cause affidavits, on April 22, 2022, shortly before 11 a.m., Garland County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Tillery's Towing and Used Cars, 190 Extrusion Place, regarding a 911 call about a theft.

They arrived to find the caller detaining a male suspect, identified as Bagby. A computer check showed Bagby had active warrants, so he was taken into custody. The caller noted a female accomplice with red hair, later identified as Johnson, had fled the scene just prior to the deputies arriving.

Investigators responded and questioned Bagby after reading him his rights. He admitted he and Johnson had been on the property "multiple times over the past several days" cutting catalytic converters out of vehicles which they later sold at scrap yards.

Bagby willingly guided the investigators around the lot and pointed out each of the vehicles he took parts from and which he entered. The total number of vehicles broken into was 12, with parts stolen including 10 catalytic converters, two radiators, one alternator and one tension rod.

When asked, Bagby said Johnson didn't remove any of the car parts, but she did get into each car and "pilfered" through them. He noted the two of them had been "back and forth between the lot, scrap yard and his home" over the preceding days.

Around each of the vehicles Bagby admitted removing the converters from, investigators noted trenches dug in the dirt allowing access to the undercarriages. Bagby stated he had dug the trenches using shovels he found on the property. He also identified various tools found near his car, a silver Impala, as belonging to him.

Investigators also found two catalytic converters at the scene that had recently been removed.

The caller estimated the damage to the 12 vehicles at $12,000 and the value of the parts taken at $2,000.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m., deputies were dispatched to the Garland County Fairgrounds, 4831 Malvern Ave., which is in the immediate area of Extrusion Place, regarding a female spotted there who matched the description of Johnson.

The deputies located Johnson and took her into custody without incident. When questioned later, Johnson admitted she and Bagby had been on the property on Extrusion Place multiple times and she "acted as a lookout" for Bagby while he removed car parts from various vehicles.

She denied removing any of the car parts, but admitted to entering multiple vehicles and "taking change from them."