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2 arrested in separate catalytic converter thefts in San Leandro

CBS News Live
CBS News Bay Area Live

SAN LEANDRO -- Police officers in San Leandro this week disrupted two separate catalytic converter thefts on the same overnight shift.

The first incident happened at around 9:15 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Pershing Drive and Stoakes Avenue. San Leandro police said officers arrived to a call of a catalytic convertor theft in progress and found a suspect actively removing the device from a vehicle. However, the suspect ran away from police and was not found.

As the suspect fled, another officer found his vehicle near the scene of the theft, with an alleged accomplice as well as a loaded firearm inside the vehicle. That suspect was identified as Jesse Cortez, a 40-year-old Hayward resident, who was arrested for firearm-related charges and theft. 

Gun seized from catalytic converter suspect  San Leandro Police Department

Hours later at 3:45 a.m. Thursday, officers to a report of another catalytic converter theft in progress the 2100 block of Bancroft Avenue. Two vehicles and their occupants were seen to be working in concert with one another to actively take the catalytic converter from the victim's vehicle, police said. 

Both of the suspect vehicles fled at a high rate of speed as officers arrived, but one vehicle was disabled after officers deployed a spike strip, police said. One suspect fled from the vehicle but was later found and arrested. He was identified as James Armstrong, a 25-year-old homeless man. He was charged with grand theft and possession of stolen property.

The second vehicle was later found abandoned on the Interstate 238 onramp from Hesperian Boulevard. Inside the vehicle were three stolen catalytic convertors, police said.

In a prepared statement, police Lt. Matthew Barajas credited citizens with quickly reporting the crimes.

"We are grateful for the community members that had the courage to report these crimes to SLPD," said Barajas "Without their assistance, we would not have been able to make two arrests."

Barajas also acknowledged the busy night his officers in handling both incidents.

"I also want to recognize our midnight shift officers for their investigative prowess and desire to apprehend offenders," said Barajas.

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