Suspected Catalytic Converter Thieves Arrested

September 5, 2009

Los Angeles:   Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific-LAX detectives have arrested two suspects who may be responsible for stealing 60 or more "catalytic converters" from cars and trucks in the Los Angeles area over the last few months.

The suspects typically targeted high profile vehicles such as trucks and sport utility vehicles, for their easy access to the exhaust system where catalytic converters are located.  It is believed that the suspects used cordless power tools to cut or unbolt the catalytic converter from the vehicle.  Because of the easy access and cordless tools, each heist probably took a matter of minutes.  

Unethical metal dealers buy the catalytic converters because they contain small amounts of valuable metal such as Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium.      

The LAX area seemed to be hit especially hard.  When Officers assigned to the PAC-LAX Immediate Response Team (IRT) and Airport Crimes Investigative Unit (ACIU) began an investigation they quickly learned that other cities and university campuses in the Los Angeles area had also been investigating similar crime sprees targeting catalytic converters.  

With the assistance from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) police departments, Pacific-LAX detectives were led to a common suspect vehicle description, a dark colored 1990’s BMW 745.
In the early afternoon of September 4, 2009, officers saw the suspects removing a catalytic converter from a parked car on the campus of USC.  With coordinated efforts and outstanding communication between campus police officers from UCLA, USC, several LAPD patrol divisions and an Air Support Division helicopter, 28-year-old Juan Calderon and 36-year-old Christopher Williams were arrested.

Calderon is being held with no bail and Williams is being held on $20,000.00 dollars bail.  

In addition, investigating detectives are looking to identify other victims. Anyone with information regarding these or similar crimes is asked to call Pacific-LAX, Detective Axel DeLeon, at 310-577-3473.  During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).  Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log onto and click on Web tips.  When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD”. Tipsters may remain anonymous.