Duo from Solano County arrested over Bay Area catalytic converter thefts


(Photo courtesy Daly City Police Department)

A pair of Solano County residents were apprehended by police in the Bay Area over the alleged thefts of catalytic converters.

On Wednesday, police in Daly City received a phone call about a duo who were allegedly stealing catalytic converters off cars in the area of Lake Merced Boulevard and Southgate Boulevard.

By the time officers arrived, the couple were long gone. But an alert citizen gave police a description of the car they were driving and, crucially, information from the car's license plate.

Later that afternoon, police in nearby Broadmoor spotted the car and alerted officers in Daly City, where police eventually found it on Interstate 280 headed toward San Francisco.

A traffic stop was initiated, and police ultimately discovered several catalytic converters that looked like they were freshly cut from vehicles.

Officers arrested Manel Patenio, 28, of Vacaville and Michelle Robinson, 26, of Fairfield. They were booked into jail on suspicion of theft and other felony charges, police said.

Law enforcement officials locally are now probing whether the duo are linked to catalytic converter thefts in the Solano County area, according to a source familiar with the situation. So far, neither Patenio nor Robinson have been connected to local crimes.

Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle's exhaust system. The device uses a chamber, called a catalyst, to convert harmful emissions like carbon monoxide into less-noxious gases, which helps reduce pollution.

The devices are a target for thieves because they contain precious metals like palladium, which are high in value. Stolen catalytic converters are often taken to scrap metal shops, where they are traded in exchange for cash.

Earlier this week, police in Fremont said they busted a recycling center that was accepting stolen catalytic converters. As part of the bust, undercover officers used catalytic converters that were etched or otherwise marked as stolen. Employees at the company, Arrow Recycling, were said to have purchased the converters several times over a period of a few months.

In June, police executed a warrant against Arrow Recycling and recovered 300 catalytic converters that were believed to be stolen. They also reportedly found several 55-gallon drums that contained refined and semi-refined metals and other materials cultivated from catalytic converters.

No charges have been brought against Arrow Recovery, though police say they continue to work with prosecutors on the case.

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