Irvine catalytic converter theft suspects arrested after pursuit

Local news
Gilbert Garcia of Pomona and Lisa Hafley of Redlands are seen in booking photos provided by the Irvine Police Department on Aug. 13, 2021.

Gilbert Garcia of Pomona and Lisa Hafley of Redlands are seen in booking photos provided by the Irvine Police Department on Aug. 13, 2021.

A man and woman tied to the theft of a catalytic converter were arrested Friday after a pursuit through Irvine, police said.

Around 2 a.m., a resident noticed the exhaust emission control device being stolen from a vehicle near Great Park Boulevard and Ridge Valley and called police.

An officers responded and found a vehicle speeding away, Irvine Police Department officials said in a news release.

Despite the officer’s attempt to stop the vehicle, the driver fled, kickstarting a pursuit.

During the chase, the driver briefly stopped to let a woman leave the vehicle before continuing.

The pursuit ended in the area of Irvine Boulevard and Modjeska, where the driver ditched the vehicle.

The suspect and the woman who was with him were later found with help from an Anaheim Police Department helicopter.

Officers found a catalytic converter that had been cut from a vehicle, a hydraulic car jack and cutting tools used in the theft in the car, according to police.

The suspect, 47-year-old Gilbert Garcia of Pomona, was arrested on suspicion of evading police and theft of the catalytic converter.

The woman, 40-year-old Lisa Hafley of Redlands, was arrested in connection with outstanding warrants. Officials did not provide details on the warrants.

“The price of precious metals inside catalytic converters increased late last year which has contributed to the increase in thefts across the region,” Irvine police Lt. Bill Bingham said in an email.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jonathan Sampson at 949-724-7270 or email jsampson@cityofirvine.org

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