A woman and a man were arrested Wednesday in connection with a recent string of thefts of catalytic converters in Berkeley, police said.
More than 30 vehicles have been damaged in the series of catalytic converter thefts throughout Berkeley, which started in late July, according to police. During their investigation into the matter, detectives identified a suspect vehicle and placed an alert for other law enforcement agencies to stop and detain it if they found it, police said.
Piedmont police officers spotted the vehicle in their city on Wednesday afternoon and notified Berkeley police. Piedmont officers detained the vehicle and its two occupants and Berkeley police detectives then went to Piedmont and took custody of them. After further investigation, detectives arrested Briana Nicole Crisp, 37, whose home address is unknown, and Mauricio Romeo Navarrete, 47, of Oakland, on suspicion of grand theft, conspiracy and possession of burglary tools, police said.
The investigation into the catalytic converter thefts remains active and detectives believe there may be more suspects involved in the thefts, according to police. People who have information about the thefts are asked to call the Berkeley Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit at (510) 981-5737.
Crisp and Navarrete, who are being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, tentatively are scheduled to be arraigned at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Friday. Crisp is being held in lieu of $47,500 bail and Navarrete is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. Court records indicate that Crisp has a prior misdemeanor conviction for receiving a stolen motor vehicle and a felony conviction for the unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle.
Police say that catalytic converters are valuable because of the metals in them, such as platinum. Police say a Toyota Prius was the target in a majority of the thefts, possibly because its lighter weight makes it easier to lift with a vehicle floor jack. They say catalytic converters are typically stolen by using a small portable saw to quickly cut it off from below the vehicle while it’s jacked.