Three men were arrested on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters in Camarillo, officials said Friday.
The vehicle exhaust emission control devices are increasingly being stolen because they contain precious metals and can be scrapped for quick profit. Thieves typically use saws to cut them from vehicles and that can be a loud process.
Deputies responded to the area of Pleasant Valley Road near the 101 Freeway around 1 a.m. Thursday after getting a call about a catalytic converter being stolen, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
When they got there, the victim’s neighbor was able to give them a description of the suspect vehicle and where it was seen going.
Deputies then spotted a vehicle matching the description and made the driver stop.
Inside the vehicle, they saw “multiple” catalytic converters and saw blades in the back of the vehicle, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
After searching the vehicle, deputies ended up recovering five catalytic converters. They also found a “usable quantity of heroin” in the vehicle, officials said.
Larry Garcia, 21, Byron Lopez, 22, and Luis Bidriezca, 25, were all arrested on suspicion of grand theft, possessing stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime and possessing burglary tools, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives were able to return some of the stolen property back to the owners.
The region has seen an uptick in catalytic converter thefts.
Between April 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021, there were 100 catalytic converter thefts in the city of Camarillo.
Vehicles targeted most often include the Toyota Prius, Ford F250 and Honda Element.
The Camarillo Police Department previously announced teaming up with several local auto repair, tire shops and oil change businesses that residents can go to to etch on their license plate number and paint a sheriff’s star on their catalytic converters, free of charge when bringing in their vehicles for service.
“If a catalytic converter is stolen, this will help law enforcement or a scrap yard in recognizing that the catalytic converter as stolen based on the markings,” Camarillo police said.