Winters police arrested three suspected catalytic converter thieves and cited and released a fourth.
Officer Kyle Shadman was on patrol on Saturday, April 3 just before 8 a.m. on Baker Street when he came upon a silver sedan double-parked and observed two occupants inside. As he neared the sedan, he heard the sound of power tools operating. He then saw two suspects quickly roll out from under a parked car, jump into their alleged getaway car and quickly flee the scene.
Shadman pursued the fleeing sedan with lights and siren as it sped down Railroad Avenue, accelerating up to 50 m.p.h. and running through several stop signs before crossing into Solano County.
During the pursuit, one of the suspects tossed a catalytic converter out the window, which was recovered and taken in as evidence.
Officers Victor Barajas and Brandon Kenny provided backup and joined Shadman when the suspect’s vehicle was stopped in the vicinity of the Green River Brewing & Taproom.
Winters Police Chief, John P. Miller, told the Express that catalytic converter theft has become a nationwide problem. He commended his officers for doing a “fantastic job” in observing a crime in progress and safely apprehending the suspects.
Arrested were Adrian Lujan, 46, of Vallejo; David Coyt, 26, of Richmond and Carlos Manzano, 37, of Vallejo. All three suspects were booked into the Yolo County Jail on charges including, grand theft, possession of burglary tools, stolen property and methamphetamine. The fourth suspect, Elsy Zapien, 29, of Concord was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and released.
A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device and part of a vehicle’s exhaust system that reduces the discharge of toxic exhaust gases and pollutants from gas combustion engines.
Catalytic converter thieves target certain vehicles like Ford trucks for their ease of removal and hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, for their higher content of precious metals, such as palladium, rhodium and platinum. These precious metals have high value and thieves sell them to recyclers on the black market.
Miller said there have been nine reported converter thefts in Winters this year: seven Toyota Priuses, one Honda Accord and one Ford truck.