When Davis police arrested two catalytic converter theft suspects this week, they confiscated a notebook that contained 12 Napa addresses, Napa police reported.
When Napa detectives checked out those addresses, they discovered that each one had reported a catalytic converter theft in late 2020, police said.
The suspects apparently had canvased Napa neighborhoods ahead of time, noting lighting, cameras and proximity to neighbors before entering each address in their notebook of future targets, said Police Sgt. Pete Piersig.
Shaneel Lal, 37, of Sacramento and Dao Xiong, 43, of Elk Grove were arrested Tuesday after the detectives served search warrants as part of a five-month investigation, the Davis Police Department announced Wednesday.
Lal and Xiong were booked at the Yolo County on 61 counts of grand theft on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters from vehicles in the Sacramento area, Yolo, El Dorado and Napa counties, and elsewhere in the Bay Area, police officials said.
Each of the 12 Napa thefts was a "cold" report, meaning there was no suspect information for police to follow up on at the time, Piersig said.
Yolo County will be prosecuting Lai and Xiong for the Napa thefts as part of the 61 grand theft charges, he said.
The theft charges also include enhancements for allegedly committing the crimes while awaiting prosecution in other theft cases. Police officials said Lal and Xiong had already been arrested on theft-related charges and are suspected of continuing to steal catalytic converters after their release from jail.
Catalytic converter thefts have plagued Napa in recent months, with Napa Police and Sheriff's deputies participating in several arrests.
Thefts of catalytic converters are a national problem because they contain valuable metals that can be recycled and sold for a profit. The police department said California has laws that make it difficult for catalytic converters to be sold here, but the materials can be moved out of the country and sold overseas, which makes it difficult to track.
Police officials reminded residents to be vigilant and call 911 if they see or hear anything suspicious. They also urged residents to protect their vehicles by:
• parking in well-lighted and highly visible areas;
• parking high-profile vehicles, such as pickups, next to low-profile vehicles to make it tough for thieves to access catalytic converters on taller vehicles;
• considering having a cage installed around your catalytic converter;
• having your license plate number or vehicle identification number etched on your catalytic converter to make it easier for investigators to trace if it's stolen.
Most-read police briefs on NapaValleyRegister.com
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