ROCKIN – A man casually walking to his car after a movie with friends on Sunday night clicked his remote to start the engine, was surprised as four men jumped from underneath his car, and then scrambled to their own car and drove off.
After seeing the men scurry from under his car, the man noted a description of the getaway vehicle and got a partial license plate. According to the Rocklin Police, he called in the report, and officers responded immediately. They searched the area around the Century Theaters on Lonetree Blvd., and soon located a matching vehicle on Highway 65 heading out of town towards Interstate 80.
Now in Roseville, police pulled the car over, and one of the three passengers jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a creek near Atlantic Street and tried to hide in the bushes. While his accomplices remained in the car and were detained, police quickly located the runner and took him into custody as well.
Police report that the officers searching the car found burglary tools and about 12 catalytic converters, along with other property that appeared to have been stolen. Meanwhile, the Rocklin police were getting more calls from other possible victims of this team, who reported that their cars had been tampered with and catalytic converters removed. Two of the reports were from victims whose vehicles had been parked at a church on Granite Drive.
Catalytic converters have become a popular item for thieves because they are fairly easy to remove by unbolting or cutting them out, and contain valuable metals, such as copper. They can fetch $50.00 or more from metal recyclers, even up to $250.00. Replacement, however, can cost as much as $4000.00. Police have warned people to be vigilant about where their vehicle is parked, both at home and in parking lots. People can also have their converters etched with their license plate numbers, or have a muffler shop weld them in more securely. High riding vehicles, like trucks and SUV’s are often targeted because of the easier access to the underside of the car, where the converter is located. If yours has been stolen, you will probably be aware immediately that something is wrong, because it will sound loud when started, like you don’t have a muffler installed.
Police arrested the four men, all from Stockton. Benjamin Rodriguez, 32; Lee Marvin Nelson, 21; Brandon Leroy Brockl, 21; and Rhota Vin, 23 were all charged with felony grand theft, consipiracy, possession of stolen property, and possession of burglary tools. Vin was also charged with resisting arrest for jumping from the car and hiding. Rodriguez may also face parole violation charges.
Since at least 12 converters were recovered, police believe there are very likely other victims who have not yet discovered they were missing. Anyone with who believes they may have also been a victim are urged to call their local police, or contact the Rocklin Police at 916-625-5442.
Sacramento Bee: Four arrested on suspicion of Rocklin converter theft spree
Placer Herald: Rocklin police capture suspected catalytic converter thieves
KCRA: 4 Men Accused Of Catalytic Converter Theft