GOTCHA! Clifton police recovered 21 catalytic converters while arresting four men who they said stole them.
Officers responding to a theft in progress on East 4th Street stopped a fleeing Kia in Paterson and arrested the lone occupant, Pedro Mirben-Feliz, 26, of Brooklyn around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, Detective Lt. Robert Bracken said.
A second vehicle, an Acura TL, crashed on Route 3 in Secaucus, where police arrested three occupants -- driver Juan Ortegalazala, 29, of the Bronx and passengers Yheremy Santana, 22, and Angel Batista, 18, both of Jersey City, the lieutenant said.
Between both vehicles, police retrieved 21 catalytic converters, along with jack stands and cutting tools, Bracken said.
Roughly half of the stolen converters have already been returned to their owners, he said.
Santana had an outstanding warrant from a previous incident in which he attacked a vehicle owner with a tire iron during a converter theft, Bracken said. He was sent to the Passaic County Jail while the other three were released under New Jersey's 2017 bail reform law.
All are charged with receiving stolen property and possession of burglary tools. Ortegalazala also is charged with eluding.
TIPS to help prevent catalytic converter theft (courtesy of Allstate):
- Install an anti-theft device;
- Use motion sensor lights and cameras;
- Etch your license plate number or VIN onto the part, which could alert a scrap dealer that it's stolen and identify you as the owner;
- Park in well-lit areas close to public entrances.
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