CONCORD (KRON) — Two people who were arrested Tuesday near a Union City BART station may be linked to a rash of catalytic converter thefts in the East Bay, authorities said.
According to BART police, the two suspects were taken into custody after a station agent spotted one of them underneath a car at around 9:40 a.m. Tuesday.
The agent, identified as Luther McGill Sr., approached the suspect but the person fled to a nearby car. BART officers in another vehicle followed the suspects, made a traffic stop, and noticed possible items in the vehicle connecting them to the investigation.
“The Station Agent was able to provide a description of the vehicle and the suspects for responding officers. He was also able to provide the license plate of the suspect vehicle,” BART said in a news release.
Upon further investigation, the catalytic converter under the car where the suspect was spotted was partially removed, police said.
The suspects have been identified as Cedric Choyce and Michael Tillis. They have been booked into Santa Rita Jail.
Stolen catalytic converters from East Bay parking lots
BART officials confirm there have been a couple dozen vehicles targeted in their parking lots across the Bay Area.
While drivers park their cars for the day, thieves have been stealing the catalytic converters from underneath the vehicles. Thieves can sell these converters to scrap yards and make a quick buck.
What is inside of them is what’s really expensive.
“Platinum and rhodium, and these raw materials sell for anywhere between $500 to 800 an ounce. So, there’s a reason why they’re stealing them,” said Mike Abuyaghi, who works for R&M Automotive.
There is a device that can be bought and attached underneath a vehicle to help prevent theft.
Abuyaghi said for the victim, replacing a converter can be expensive.
“Depending on the year, make, and model of the car, they could run anywhere from $800 to $3,000,” Abuyaghi said.
Insurance companies normally cover the cost if their client has full coverage insurance.
To prevent catalytic converter theft, experts suggest the following tips:
• Always park in well-lighted areas;
• At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park near the entrance or near an access road where there’s lots of traffic;
• Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable;
• Buy a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with slight motion;
• Have an auto body shop or muffler shop secure the converter to the frame.