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THEFTS ON RISE OF CATALYTIC CONVERTERS CRIMES: 17 PICKUP TRUCKS HIT AT LOT IN GLENDALE 4 ARRESTED IN SANTA CLARITA.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

GLENDALE -- Adding to a growing string of similar crimes, thieves stole catalytic converters valued at $30,000 from 17 pickup trucks housed at an inventory lot for a Glendale automotive dealership, police said Friday.

Meanwhile in Santa Clarita, two men and two women were arrested Friday on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters in the area, which has seen about 15 catalytic-converter thefts since March 1, authorities said.

Employees from Allen Gwynn Chevrolet in Glendale discovered the thefts Thursday. The converters are prized for the precious metals inside and police believe they were taken from the lot sometime over the past two weeks, said Officer John Balian, spokesman for the Glendale Police Department.

The Chevrolet dealership is located at 1400 S. Brand Blvd., but the thefts occurred at a nearby location, Balian said.

Of the converters stolen from the Silverado trucks, one was sawed off and the others had their bolts removed, Balian said.

Catalytic-converter thefts have risen throughout the nation in recent years as the price of platinum, palladium and rhodium, precious metals typically found inside converters, have skyrocketed.

Since 2005, the price of rhodium has increased sixfold and is currently selling for more than $9,000 an ounce, or about 10 times the price of gold.

"In the last year, we've noticed an increase in thefts of catalytic converters," Balian said.

No arrests have been made in the latest case, he said.

In Santa Clarita, Miguel Haro, 29, of Los Angeles; Manuel Chavez, 31, of South Gate; Courtney Dominish, 27, of Hawthorne; and Patricia Medina, 33, of Huntington Park were arrested about 2:15 a.m. Friday, said Lt. Brenda Cambra of the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station.

All four were in a vehicle that deputies stopped near a neighborhood where a woman had just reported the theft of a catalytic converter from her car, Cambra said.

Inside the suspect's car, deputies found four stolen catalytic converters, including the one that had just been reported stolen, Cambra said. The suspects were booked on suspicion of felony grand theft and held on $20,000 bail each.

Cambra said 15 catalytic converters have been reported stolen in the Santa Clarita Valley since March 1.

Anyone with information about this case or similar cases is urged to call the Santa Clarita sheriff's station at 661-255-1121.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 12, 2008
Words:388
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