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LA Man, 48, Accused Of Stealing Catalytic Converters In Manhattan Beach

MANHATTAN BEACH (  —  A 48-year-old Los Angeles man is accused of stealing catalytic converters out of cars in and around Manhattan Beach.

Authorities said a Manhattan Beach police officer was patrolling a residential neighborhood around 2:25 Thursday morning when he observed three suspicious vehicles in a convoy.

One of the vehicles was in violation of several traffic codes and was stopped for further investigation, police said.

The driver and lone occupant of the vehicle, identified as Margarito Valdez Gomez, 48, of Los Angeles, was found in possession of seven catalytic converters. Authorities said they appeared to be newly removed from vehicles.

As police called in the incident, they learned 30 minutes prior to the stop in Manhattan Beach, El Segundo police responded to a theft of catalytic converters where the witness saw three vehicles leaving the scene.

Based on the evidence and witness statements, Gomez was arrested for suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property.

Detectives met with alleged victims from El Segundo, as well as a possible victim in Manhattan Beach. Four of the catalytic converters were matched to their cars. Officials said three remaining converters have yet to be linked with their rightful owners.

The cost of a converter depends on the make and model of the vehicle as well as the type of converter (2-way or 3-way) and can range from $25 to $500, not including installation.

Police said Gomez stole the converters from Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys.

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