Two catalytic converter theft suspects were behind bars Monday morning after a north Napa car owner interrupted thieves caught in the act of removing the pollution control device, police said.
Police said the car owner confronted the thieves after being awakened shortly before 2:30 a.m. on the 4000 block of Tokay Drive. One of the suspects hit the car owner over the head with a catalytic converter when the owner tried to detain him, Napa Police said.
Napa Sheriff's deputies and American Canyon Police officers spotted the suspects' vehicle, an Infiniti, on Highway 29 at Airport Road. The driver failed to yield and took off at a high rate of speed, police said.
During the chase, American Canyon Police deployed spike strips at 29 and Napa Junction. The Infiniti kept going, traveling southbound on 29 in the northbound lanes, police said.
When the vehicle eventually pulled over on 29 at Mini Drive in Vallejo, two of the three occupants exited and began running, police said.
Vallejo police arrested the driver, Brayan Burgos, 26, of Alameda, in the backyard of a home on Cardinal Lane in Vallejo, police said. He was booked into the Napa County jail for possible charges of felony evading and driving in the opposite direction of traffic
A second suspect, Franklin Ruiz, 26, of Oakland, stayed in the car and was arrested, police said. He was booked for possible charges of assault with a deadly weapon and grand auto theft.
The third suspect, who is wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, escaped on foot, police said.
Five additional catalytic converters were found in the Infiniti, police said. Officers will try to match these five devices with catalytic converters reported stolen later Monday morning.
There has been an epidemic of catalytic converter thefts in Napa and across the U.S. in recent months as the value of the precious metals in them has soared.
In early February, thieves were arrested in Yolo County who were suspected of stealing 12 catalytic converters in Napa.
Police recommend that vehicle owners take defensive steps to make it harder for thieves to saw off the catalytic converters from the undersides of their vehicles.
Ideally, an owner parks off the street and in a garage. If a vehicle is parked on a driveway, consider installing motion detection lights and alarms. Bolting a metal plate over the converter and engraving the vehicle's VIN number on the converter can also help with prevention and recovery.
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You can reach City Editor Kevin Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 707-256-2217.