Tuesday, 14 December 2021 14:31

15 Suspects Arrested in Bay Area Catalytic Converter Theft Ring


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On Nov. 16th, the San José Police Department concluded Operation Cat Scratch Thiever, a six-month investigation into catalytic converter thefts in the City of San José.

The investigation was the result of a marked increase in catalytic converter thefts in 2020 and 2021. The operation targeted prolific catalytic converter thieves and the illegal underground market that has fueled the crime trend.


Fifteen suspects, all of San José, have been arrested:


  • Joe Chen, 81
  • William Collier, 54
  • Noe Antonio De La O Ramirez, 39
  • Robert Frank, 52
  • David Leaf, 29
  • Robert Lee, 29
  • Jorge Omar Flores-Meza, 25
  • Noah Muchera, 58
  • Waiyaki Muchera, 22
  • Casandra Ochoa, 37
  • Mario Zarate Sanchez, 49
  • Godofredo Lopez Serrano, 47
  • Jeffrey Smith, 36
  • Alton Walker, 49
  • Lacey Westgate, 36


The suspects have been charged with crimes ranging from grand theft to receiving stolen property and from assault with a deadly weapon to possession of illegal weapons.


Multiple search warrants were served over a period of several weeks and detectives recovered illegal weapons, more than $50,000 in cash and more than 1,000 catalytic converters believed to have been stolen from vehicles throughout the Bay Area.


In addition, police shut down three San José businesses suspected of knowingly purchasing stolen catalytic converters from street criminals. Those businesses are being referred to the San José City Attorney’s Office.


Since the start of the pandemic, the City of San José has experienced an increase in catalytic converter thefts. Many of these thefts have become...

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