Milpitas Police arrested four suspects early Thursday morning after a local resident caught one of them in the act of attempting to cut the catalytic converter out from underneath his car.
At approximately 12:13 a.m. Thursday morning, a man arrived home in the 500 block of Roswell Drive and saw a man lying underneath his car - a red, four-door, 1999 Pontiac Grand Am - which was parked in his driveway.
The suspect fled when the resident spotted him. The resident immediately called the police.
Officers immediately responded. An officer inspected the resident's vehicle and found the vehicle's catalytic converter was in the process of being cut out from the vehicle's undercarriage. One of the converter's two metal pipes had been completely cut, and the other was in the process of being cut when the resident interrupted the suspect.
Officers conducted a thorough search of the area, and spotted a suspicious vehicle parked nearby, with three people sitting in it.
Upon investigation, the male front passenger was in possession of several tools and a pipe cutter. The male driver of the car was on parole. The female in the back seat was in possession of drug paraphernalia and had an outstanding warrant for her arrest.
All three suspects were taken into custody and booked on multiple offenses including conspiracy, attempted grand theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, giving false information to a police officer, possession of burglary tools, being under the influence of a controlled substance, and outstanding warrants. The suspects, who all live in Stockton, were Mario Lagudas, 42; Phornxay Ratsavongsy, 30; and Russhia Lee Pittman, 29.
Thefts of catalytic converters have been on the rise in Milpitas, as well as across the country, recently. A from vehicles in Milpitas just in the past one to two months. It is unclear at this time whether the three suspects are responsible for any other catalytic converter thefts in the area.
Catalytic converters are a popular target of thieves because of the precious metals - such as rhodium and platinum - within them. Thieves can sell them for a profit after stealing them. SUVs are often particularly targeted.
The parts are often stolen overnight. Therefore, the Milpitas Police Department is urging residents to park their vehicles in garages or well-lit areas whenever possible, and to call the police immediately if they see anything suspicious at 408-586-2400.
Anonymous tips can also be called in to 408-586-2500 or by visiting the Milpitas Police Department's website.