Suspected thieves of catalytic converters arrested in Burbank

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Burbank police officers arrested four people last Friday who are suspected of being responsible for a series of thefts of catalytic converters in the Los Angeles area.

Shortly after 3 a.m., officers with the Burbank Police Department pulled over a BMW X5 SUV near Jeffries Avenue and Niagara Street after it was spotted driving in the area without its headlights on.

While talking with the car’s driver, officers noticed six catalytic converters in the back of the SUV. Believing the converters were stolen, officers detained all four occupants in the car — three adults and a 13-year-old boy.

The Los Angeles Times previously reported that catalytic converters are wanted by thieves because the devices contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium.

A converter can be sold for around $150 at a salvage yard. The cost to replace a stolen converter can be as much as $2,500.

Burbank Police Sgt. Derek Green said in a statement that a person who lived a block away then approached the officers, saying they just had their catalytic converter stolen by the detained group.

“The victim reported hearing the sound of a saw, looking outside and seeing the suspects and the BMW SUV,” Green said.

The four reportedly admitted to the officers they had been stealing catalytic converters from parked cars in the neighborhood. They were subsequently arrested.

The three adults were identified as 25-year-old Elmer Contreras from Cudahy, 18-year-old Krystal Cortez from Watts and 23-year-old Rony Contreras from Huntington Park.

On Tuesday, they were charged with grand theft by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Authorities did not release the name of the 13-year-old boy because of his age.

During a search of the vehicle, officers found several power tools and saws typically used to remove catalytic converters.

Green said not all of the group’s victims have been identified, and it’s believed some of the converters were taken from different parts of the Los Angeles area.

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