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Livermore, Pleasanton Police Break Up Catalytic Converter Theft Ring After 11-Month Investigation

LIVERMORE (CBS SF) -- Livermore Police announced the results of large-scale, 11-month investigation into a massive catalytic converter theft operation Wednesday that involved at least 30 suspects.

The operation concluded last month, when on Oct. 25, officers from the Livermore and Pleasanton police departments served a search warrant in Stockton that resulted in the identification of 30 suspects as well the recovery of $91,000 in seized cash, over 50 intact catalytic converters, illegal weapons, drugs, and recovered stolen vehicles. Officers also identified multiple locations that were operating as chop shops for the stolen items.

"Knowing the trend of catalytic converter thefts was increasing throughout the State, LPD initiated an investigation to identify suspects and learn where catalytic converter thieves were taking them after the thefts," Livermore Police Officials said in a press release. "Over five months of investigation and with the assistance of LPD's real-time intelligence unit, the officers developed substantial investigative leads that led them to three different counties and out of California."

Livermore Police started the operation back in January, after a resident reported a partial license plate number for a suspicious car in the area of a catalytic converter theft.

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Catalytic converters recovered in bust of criminal theft ring on Oct. 25 (Livermore Police)

"Frustrated with all the catalytic converter thefts that occurred in our City, a group of officers took the initiative to pursue this partial lead. With this tip and the partial license plate, the officers were able to identify possible suspects," the press release said.

The officers arrested their first suspect four days after the license plate was reported. The arrest led to Livermore Police setting up a task force with the Pleasanton Police Department. The task force discovered a ring where thieves would steal catalytic converters throughout California and Oregon and drop the stolen catalytic converters at drop locations in Stockton and Placer County, where the property was sold.

"The task force also learned that several suspects connected to the criminal theft ring were arrested for catalytic converter thefts and were bailed out of jail by other suspects associated with this theft ring. Once bailed out, they immediately went back to committing thefts," the release said.

Police officials say the task force continues to investigate the thefts and seek arrest warrants for others involved in the ring.

"We want to thank the citizen who back in January saw something and reported it to the police department. Without this tip, we would not have been able to initiate this task force," the release said.

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