The owner of a recycling business in Merced was arrested Tuesday after detectives from the Merced Police Department located stolen vehicles and auto parts.
At around 10 a.m., detectives arrived at Fat Cat Recycling located at 371 Highway 59 for a compliance check, according to Merced Police Det. Christian Lupian.
During the audit, detectives located stolen property including a dump truck, Case forklift, trailer as well as stolen catalytic converters and an air compressor at the facility. The dump truck is valued at $ 104,000 and the total value of stolen goods recovered from the company was over $ 200,000, according to a social media post by the Merced Police Department.
Authorities said the vehicle identification number or VIN numbers had been crossed out from the trailer and forklift.
Catalytic converter theft is a big problem in the Merced area, Lupian says, and it is difficult to track down the stolen catalytic converters and determine which vehicles they belong to.
“We do our best every day to come and do compliance checks. Find out from our victims, do follow-up investigations. So we are working on it every day, but it is very difficult to identify which catalytic converters belong to which vehicles, ”said Lupian.
Police say thieves are stealing vehicle catalytic converters, which contain precious metals like palladium, and taking them to recycling centers. Recyclers pay between $ 200 and $ 500 per converter.
“In turn, they’re the ones who recycle it and make maybe more money out of it, maybe twelve to thirteen hundred dollars per catalytic converter,” Lupian said.
An investigation is underway in Stanislaus County after an estimated $ 700,000 in stolen property was located in the same location a few months ago, according to Lupian.
The owner of the property, identified as Carl Means, 40, was arrested for criminal possession of a stolen vehicle and a stolen vehicle without the owners’ consent, jail records show. Anyone with information or anyone who believes they are the owner of the stolen property located by police is asked to call Lupian at 209-769-8721.
Police say they have been in contact with the Midas site on V Street in Merced, which offers service for engraving VINs or serial numbers on catalytic converters by appointment. According to Lupian, this makes it easier for police to return the catalytic converter to the vehicle owner in the event of theft.
This story was originally published October 26, 2021 6:25 pm.