By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Converter Thefts Lead To Arrests
Placeholder Image
Four people have been arrested in connection with a catalytic converter theft ring operating in the area.

Thefts of the converters have been on the rise, and officials said the area has been plagued by several cases over the last few months. They hope with the arrests, they have put a major dent in the operation.

According to police, Officer Joseph Rosa was on patrol about 4:10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1 in the area of Justin Drive at Jessica Circle. While in the area, Officer Rosa discovered a dark colored two door Acura Integra stopped in the middle of the roadway with the passenger door standing open and its headlights off.

Rosa attempted to make contact with the occupants of the vehicle because of the suspicious circumstances, but as he moved in to make contact, the vehicle quickly fled the scene.

Officer Rosa followed the Acura and was joined by Officer Robert Lackey. An enforcement stop was then conducted. During the subsequent investigation conducted by Officer Lackey, it was discovered that the four occupants in the two-door coupe had been involved in the theft of catalytic converters. Located within the vehicle were three catalytic converters, a battery operated drill, sockets of various sizes and cutting tools.

The occupants of the vehicle were eventually identified as: Somnang Chea, 26; Kimrath Seng, 25; John Ouch, 24; and Joshua Her, 22, all of Stockton.

The four were placed under arrest for felony possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools and vehicle tampering. An additional charge of possession of a dangerous weapon was leveled against Chea. The four were subsequently booked at the San Joaquin County Jail.

During a series of follow up investigations conducted by Officer Robert Hardgraves, the three catalytic converters found in the suspect vehicle were linked to thefts on Jessica Circle, Mission Street and Daniels Avenue. The value of the recovered stolen property was set at $3,126.95.

Police Chief Jim Shaw said the arrests were likely a significant step in reducing catalytic converter thefts but also reminded residents that they can take advantage of a free service offered at Les Schwab Tires on McHenry Avenue.

The business will engrave your car's license plate number on the converter, which will serve as a theft deterrent and help identify it if the converter is ever stolen.

Shaw said when thieves take the stolen converters to scrap metal dealers, the presence of an engraved license plate number signals that it is stolen and the dealers are now looking for that type of identification to make sure they don't purchase stolen property.

The local Les Schwab, in cooperation with the police department, hosted a converter ID clinic earlier this year and officials said they would continue to provide the free service.