Photo: example of stolen catalytic converter
SAN RAFAEL — Catalytic converter thefts are problematic throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Accordingly, San Rafael, where police recently arrested four suspected thieves, is no exception to this trend.
Catalytic converters contain precious metals used in exhaust systems, which fetch upwards of $100 from recyclers and scrap yards. Such thefts typically happen at night with someone acting as a lookout, while another person saws off the catalytic converter.
On March 12 at approximately 2 a.m., an officer noticed something suspicious. A slowly moving truck was being followed by a person on foot, near the Motel Six, located at 737 East Francisco Boulevard.
When an officer pulled up to the truck, the suspects claimed they were having mechanical problems. Another truck was parked nearby, and the officer saw a person underneath attempting to steal its catalytic converter.
Therefore, San Rafael PD arrested four persons on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters. Two of the suspects remain in custody at Marin County Jail, Zitlaly J. Espinoza, 28, and Hector Vargas-Martinez, 46, both of Los Angeles.
Vargas-Martinez and Espinoza each face open charges for grand theft, conspiracy and tampering with a vehicle. They are also charged with possession of—burglary tools and stolen property.
In addition, Vargas-Martinez and Espinoza were also booked for outstanding arrest warrants. Vargas-Martinez was wanted for identity theft. Espinoza was wanted for possession of a controlled substance.
Wendy Carbajal-Galdamez, 20, of Los Angeles and Francis Peraza-Guerra, 26 of Oakland, are facing the same charges as the other two suspects involving thefts of catalytic converters. However, they are no longer being held in custody at the Marin County lockup.
The case remains open, as police found evidence possibly linking these four individuals to other crimes