LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Two suspects were arrested after officers found multiple stolen vehicles and hundreds of catalytic converters inside their Victorville home.
The suspects were identified as Jonathan De Jesus Ortega, 28 and Melissa Flores Reyes, 28, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Auto theft investigators served a search warrant at the suspects’ home on Nov. 13. During the search, deputies discovered six stolen vehicles and over 100 catalytic converters believed to be stolen.
A photo from the search shows the massive collection of catalytic converters splayed across a sidewalk.
Both suspects were arrested for charges of possessing stolen vehicles and owning a chop shop, authorities said. They were booked into the High Desert Detention Center
Catalytic converters are regular and easy targets for thieves. The auto piece can be cut from the undercarriage of a car and sold to recyclers for anywhere between $25 to $300 for a standard vehicle and up to $1,400 for hybrid vehicles, according to Carfax.
In Los Angeles, these types of thefts have increased at troubling levels, with up to a 700% estimated increase over the past five years. Authorities also believe many catalytic converter thefts go unreported due to a lack of insurance coverage for the stolen part.
Drivers who don’t have full coverage insurance that covers the theft of a catalytic converter can be faced with repair costs of around $2,000 or $3,000 or possibly even more.
The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information can call The San Bernardino County Auto Theft Task Force at 909-388-4898 or the SBSD Dispatch at 760-956-5001. Anonymous tips can be submitted to the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-782-7463 or online at wetip.com.