Man suspected of stealing catalytic converters falls off cliff running away from Virginia police

Virginia News

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A robbery suspect has “fallen on hard times” after he tumbled off a small cliff and into a ravine running away from law enforcement after stealing catalytic converters, according to the Chesterfield Police Department.

The department identified the man they caught was L. Branch. Police say there is another suspect, who remains unnamed but has been identified.

According to officials, the two were stealing catalytic converters from vehicles in the Boulders area of Midlothian — which is located in the Falling Creek Division — at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9.

The department says that their own Capt. Tim Kehoe, who is a corporately sponsored Ironman triathlete, was working at his off-duty job in the area.

Robert the robber who fell off of a cliff into a ravine in Chesterfield County
Robert Branch fell off a cliff running away from law enforcement, according to the Chesterfield Police Department. (Photo: Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office)

“Yeah, you can probably see where this is headed. South. Fast. Anyway,” CPD said in its Facebook post.

Kehoe noticed a suspicious car in the parking lot and decided to check it out when he heard the sound of an electric saw, according to police. The off-duty officer reportedly knows that tool is often used to steal catalytic converters, as there have been a lot stolen in the county this year.

“Tim’s ‘spidey senses’ began to tingle and he called for back-up. Backup came. A lot of it,” the department said.

Authorities say this interrupted the two suspects’ “business plan.”

“The free-market is a dog-eat-dog world and successful entrepreneurs must be able to navigate a shifting operational environment,” CPD said. “Hat the game, not the players, folks. Sorry…back to the story…”

Police say they noticed the two suspects running to a wood line near Chippenham Parkway. It was then that Officer Krant and his K9, Samson, started to search for the dubious duo.

While looking for the two, officials say they found Branch at the bottom of a deep ravine that was about a 30-foot drop. The other suspect successfully ran away, leaving Branch behind.

“Has he no shame? No sense of loyalty? Loyalty is a two-way street, right?” the Facebook post said.

The Chesterfield County Fire and EMS’ technical rescue unit responded to the scene showed up to help recover Branch from the ravine.

  • Robert the robber being rescued from a ravine he fell into by Chesterfield county Fire and EMS
  • Robert the robber being rescued from a ravine he fell into by Chesterfield county Fire and EMS
  • Robert branch the robber being rescued from a ravine he fell into by Chesterfield county Fire and EMS

Police say Branch got some superficial injures from the fall and was treated at a local hospital.

According to the department, after he was medically cleared, Branch was housed at “Uncle Karl’s Bed & Breakfast,” aka, Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard’s home.

Authorities say Branch is currently being held without bond. He has been charged with tampering with a vehicle, obstruction of justice, possession of burglary tools, and grand larceny.

CPD warns potential criminals that they will likely catch them, saying every member of the department is a crime fighter.

They also shared a message for the suspect who escaped: “Consider securing legal counsel and turn yourself in on your timetable if, say, you have left your partner behind and you know it’s only a matter of time before we snatch you up on our terms. Convenience matters despite your poor life choices.”

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