BERKELEY, Calif. - Police in Berkeley are warning residents of a recent uptick in catalytic converter thefts.
Since the start of the year, there have been more than two dozen such thefts, and most have occurred after dark, police said.
Police have arrested three suspects in connection with catalytic converter thefts over the past three weeks. On Sunday, Jan. 12, Luis Martinez, 31, was arrested in San Leandro in connection with a theft that occurred on Dec. 29, from a car in the Berkeley Bowl parking lot at 2020 Oregon St.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has since charged Martinez with felony grand theft.
Early Tuesday, Richard Harold Reynolds, 57, and Jeni Marie Wadsworth, 47, were arrested early in connection with a catalytic converter theft on Euclid Avenue north of Marin Avenue.
Police received a report that someone might be trying to steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle parked on the street. The suspects were able to cut off the device within minutes and left the scene, police said.
But a few minutes later, officers spotted the suspects' vehicle driving on Marin Avenue near Masonic Avenue and pulled it over. Inside the car officers found a battery-powered reciprocating saw, with spare batteries and blades, along with the stolen catalytic converter, police said.
Both were arrested on suspicion of grand theft, and Reynolds was also arrested on suspicion of violating his parole and possession of burglary tools.
Police advise residents can protect their cars by parking inside a garage, if possible. Parking in well-lit or busy areas is also advised.
Parking near security cameras, if possible, is also helpful, police said.
Officials said that speaking with a repair shop about the options available to make your vehicle's catalytic converter more difficult to steal is also option.
Residents should report anyone suspiciously working under a vehicle with a flashlight in the middle of the night -- especially if you hear the grinding sound of a power saw as well.