SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Three residents of Northern California were arrested in San Luis Obispo for allegedly cutting off and stealing catalytic converters from parked vehicles.
San Luis Obispo police received a call from a citizen who reported seeing a dark minivan in an area where the sound of metal being cut was heard.
Police responded to the area and located the minivan driving and conducted a traffic stop.
Police said three people were in the van as well as two catalytic converters and tools that could be used in their removal.
One of the people in the van admitted to stealing the catalytic converters earlier that day, police said.
Officers later went to a local hotel where they found more tools and more catalytics converters. The suspects allegedly told police that those catalytic converters were stolen from Monterey County.
The suspects were identified as a 31-year-old man and a 33-year-old man who live in the Bay area and a 35-year-old woman who is a resident of Lake County.
The three were all booked into jail and face charges for 'grand theft during state emergency,' 'conspiracy,' 'vehicle tampering' and 'possession of stolen property.'
Police say this investigation is ongoing and local law enforcement agencies are working to locate the owners of the stolen catalytic converters.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact SLO Police Detective Benedetti at 805-594-8060 or Crime Stoppers at 805-549-7867.
There has been an increase in catalytic converter thefts over the last several months, including several incidents along the Central Coast.
Getting a catalytic converter replaced can cost a couple thousand dollars. It's generally covered by auto insurance, but people can get stuck paying the deductible. Police say if you can park in a garage or a well-lit area that can help reduce the risk of these thefts.