Drone and Spike Strips Used in Battle Against Catalytic Converter Thievery
WALNUT CREEK — Catalytic converter thievery is exploding statewide and Walnut Creek is no exception in this ongoing law enforcement battle. WCPD recently dispatched a drone and placed spike strips at the entrance of a gated community to nab one such thief.
Authorities attribute soaring catalytic converter thefts to skyrocketing prices of precious metals used in vehicle exhaust systems. Palladium and rhodium are in short supply, exacerbated by the pandemic, fueling a black market.
Last month, Walnut Creek officers responded to a reported catalytic converter theft from a car inside the Rossmoor gated community. Officers learned the suspect was driving around in a utility truck and casing vehicles.
The truck was located by a police drone flying overhead. Officers on the ground attempted to stop the truck, but the driver sped away.
Meanwhile, officers waiting near the gates of Rossmoor placed spike strips on the roadway. The strips punctured the tires of the suspect’s truck, but the driver continued to evade officers.
With officers in pursuit, the suspect kept driving, until the truck finally became inoperable. Michael A. Kuzdzal, 53 of Walnut Creek, was arrested near Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Medical Center on South Main Street.
Kuzdzal was found in possession of a catalytic converter stolen from a Toyota Prius. Kuzdzal was booked on five charges
Possession of burglar’s tools
Carrying a concealed dirk or dagger
Evasion of an officer with disregard for safety.
Kuzdzal has been in trouble with the law previously and he was convicted. He has prior arrests in 2017 and 2014, including once for receiving a stolen vehicle.