Cops can't find victims of catalytic converter thefts
Two East Bay men were arrested Friday after being found with stolen tools and four catalytic converters that had apparently been stolen - but not reported.
According to Sgt. Spencer Crum, with the Sonoma Police Department, at about 6:10 a.m., officers responded to a report that a pair of men in a pickup truck were in the Maxwell Village Shopping Center and appeared to be either drunk or on drugs.
While talking to the driver, Michael Holmes, 47, of San Pablo, the officer noticed there were a lot of power tools in the bed of the truck - and the officer also noticed that there were no keys in the ignition and it apparently had been punched.
The officer asked if either man was on probation and both denied they were.
After separating the pair, the officer asked Holmes what they were doing in the parking lot and Holmes said the pair had been doing some work and decided to catch a nap on their way back to Richmond. The officer looked at some of the power tools in the bed and noticed they had marking identifying them as the property of Peterson Mechanical, a Sonoma company.
The officer asked if the tools were stolen, and Holmes told him they weren't.
The officer turned his attention to the passenger, Larry Hernandez, 45, of El Sobrante, who told the deputy they had been visiting a friend of Holmes' and were headed back to Richmond. Hernandez claimed to not even know what town the pair were in.
While looking through the bed, the officer also noticed the four catalytic converters, which have been popular lately with thieves who chop them out from under a pickup truck or auto and sell them for the precious metals inside.
The officer called Peterson Mechanical to see if the business had been burglarized, and was told it hadn't, but a representative came out to inspect the tools and said they belonged to an employee who lives on Robinson Road.
Also in the truck, the officer found five shaved keys, which are commonly used by auto burglars.
The power tools that were found in the bed had a value of $2,730, while there was an additional $880 in hand tools.
Hernandez and Holmes were both arrested and charged with possession of stolen property, and Crum said they're asking the district attorney to include charges of possession of burglary tools and a probation violation on Hernandez.
Crum said officers called around the county Friday morning to see if anyone with a Nissan had reported their catalytic converter stolen overnight, but as of late Friday afternoon no one had come forward.
Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and gold, and Crum said they fetch $5 to $150 on the recycling market.