Catalytic Converters

Some of the catalytic converters found in possession of an alleged thief in Windsor on Jan. 20. Photo courtesy Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department

Catalytic converter thefts have been increasing exponentially in north county in the past month, with alerts being issued throughout all of Sonoma County. The most common victim of the thefts is the Toyota Prius, whose converters are both very easy to steal and particularly valuable. They contain precious metals, such as platinum, palladium or rhodium.

On Jan. 20 a Richmond man was arrested for theft of catalytic converters and driving a stolen truck near the Pick-N-Pull in Windsor. Gerardo Ramirez-Vega, 32, was arrested by Windsor Police Department and Property Crime Detectives.

According to a statement from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, on Jan. 20, at 6:24 p.m., “deputies were dispatched to 10475 Old Redwood Highway for a burglary alarm activation. Deputies and detectives saw a Chevrolet truck leaving the area and stopped it. The truck had previously been reported stolen. In the bed of the truck, deputies found four catalytic converters.”

Ramirez-Vega was arrested for possession of a stolen truck and grand theft and was booked into the Sonoma County jail, where he was later issued a citation and released.

The arrest in Windsor comes on the heels of a larger one the day before, when two men from Stockton were arrested leaving the county.

Soeub Seang, 37, and Boun Chansombath, 38, were arrested after a month-long investigation by property crime detectives into catalytic converter thefts.

“On Jan. 19, at approximately 12:08 pm, deputies stopped a grey Lexus driven by Seang in the area of Highway 37 and Noble Road. Chansombath was seated in the front passenger seat and was on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) from a prior theft conviction. A person under PRCS is subject to a warrantless search of their person and vehicle by a law enforcement officer. Deputies searched the car and found five catalytic converters in the trunk. They also found a Sawzall, impact driver, hand drill, and pipe cutters, commonly used to cut out the catalytic converters,” said a statement from the sheriffs.

Seang was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County jail for the following; grand theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy, vehicle tampering, and possession of burglary tools. Seang was later released on a citation.

Chansombath was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County jail for the following; grand theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy, vehicle tampering, possession of burglary tools, theft with a prior conviction, and violation of PRCS. He remains in-custody on a no-bail hold.

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