News

3 arrested in catalytic converters theft operation, Mesa police say

Posted 9/23/21

Federico Guttierez

Christopher Frenci

Anthony Toledo

The Mesa Police Department and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office this summer conducted an undercover operation — …

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News

3 arrested in catalytic converters theft operation, Mesa police say

Federico Guttierez
Federico Guttierez
Mesa Police Department
Posted

The Mesa Police Department and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office this summer conducted an undercover operation — Operation Heavy Metal — to combat a surge in catalytic converter thefts in the city of Mesa and three suspects have been arrested.

The operation involved undercover officers purchasing used and stolen catalytic converters from several suspects. Officers also sold catalytic converters to a suspect who bought them believing they were stolen, according to a release.

In total, six suspects were identified with three arrested for a variety of criminal charges. The other three suspects have charges pending, police said.

A suspect who purchased the catalytic converters from undercover officers was also charged with commercial burglary at an auto recycler in Mesa. In this burglary, 141 catalytic converters were stolen with a value of more than $40,000. This burglary also caused more than $50,000 of damage to the property of the victim.

The Mesa Police Department is working to combat the rising number of catalytic converter thefts in the city. This is a growing trend in the state and the city of Mesa is no exception. The following is statistical information on catalytic converter thefts in the city of Mesa from 2018 to present:

  • There were two stolen catalytic converter cases in 2018;
  • There was one stolen catalytic converter case in 2019;
  • There were 69 stolen catalytic converters cases in 2020; and
  • There have been 431 catalytic converter cases through Sept. 19, 2021.

In addition to this undercover operation, the Mesa Police Department assisted in a catalytic converter marking event Sept. 13-14 where tips were given to the community on how to prevent the theft of their catalytic converter. Citizens had their catalytic converters etched to track and prevent theft of the catalytic converter in the future. Over 250 vehicles were able to have this process completed over a two-day period.

The Mesa Police Department is committed to working with its community partners to combat this issue, the release states.

The suspects arrested are:

  • Federico Guttierez, on the charges of six counts of trafficking in stolen property, five counts of burglary in the third degree, possession of burglary tools, four counts of criminal damage, four counts of theft, six counts of unlawful purchase or sale of used catalytic converter, possession of narcotic drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Christopher Frenci, on the charges of two counts of trafficking in stolen property, burglary in the third degree, possession of burglary tools, criminal damage, theft, unlawful purchase or sale of used catalytic converter, possession of dangerous drug, possession of narcotic drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Anthony Toledo, on the charge of unlawful purchase or sale of used catalytic converter.

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