MESA, AZ — Mesa police say three men have been arrested in an undercover operation to combat the surge of catalytic converter thefts in the city.
Officials say the sting involved undercover officers purchasing used and stolen catalytic converters from several suspects. Officers also sold catalytic converters to a suspect who bought them believing they were stolen.
Police say three suspects, identified as Anthony Toledo, Christopher Frenci, and Federico Gutttierez, were arrested for criminal charges. Three others have charges pending, officials say.
The suspect who purchased the catalytic converters from undercover officers was also charged with commercial burglary at an auto recycling business in Mesa. In this burglary, 141 catalytic converters were stolen with a value of over $40,000. This burglary also caused over $50,000 of damage to the property of the business owner.
Mesa police say the rise in the number of catalytic converter thefts in the city is substantial.
· There were 2 stolen catalytic converter cases in 2018
· There was 1 stolen catalytic converter case in 2019
· There were 69 stolen catalytic converters cases in 2020
· There have been 431 catalytic converter cases through 09/19/2021
To combat theft, police suggest motorists have their catalytic converters etched to track and prevent them from being stolen.