Police pursuit on Peninsula reveals catalytic converter heist

A police pursuit on the Peninsula ended with one suspected catalytic converter thief in custody.

San Mateo police were called out to Third Avenue about 3 a.m. on Thursday. 

After patrolling the area for a while, they spotted the suspect vehicle, a Toyota Sienna.

When police tried to pull it over, they say the driver took off.

There was a chase, and the vehicle crashed after losing a wheel and hitting a patrol car.

MORE: Task force busts catalytic converter theft ring with $12M in stolen goods, and guns

Police say the three people inside ran off. 

Officers say that one of them kicked an officer in the face while trying to climb over a fence.

An officer was able to detain one of the suspected thieves and the two others have not been found despite a search by San Mateo, Colma, Hillsborough and San Bruno police.

 KTVU has learned that the suspect in custody is Olvin Hernandez Lopez, 23.

Police say they found six catalytic converters, burglary tools and drug paraphernalia inside the suspects' van. 

Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise in recent months across the country amid the highest demand for cars and replacement parts in years.

"Catalytic converter thefts is one of those things that come in waves," said Officer Alison Gilmore, a San Mateo police spokeswoman. "Right now, we're experiencing a big wave of it."

Some have resorted to firing shots at witnesses. Early Wednesday in Pacifica, a resident armed himself with a BB gun while confronting two men trying to steal a catalytic converter. One of the thieves opened fire, hitting a home. The resident wasn't hurt.

That incident followed the arrests of four thieves in separate incidents in Pacifica earlier in the week.

Catalytic converter thieves have also fired shots in Oakland, El Sobrante, San Jose, Fremont, San Francisco and Palo Alto.