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Las Vegas police bust catalytic converter theft ring

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Las Vegas police bust catalytic converter theft ring

By Spencer Lubitz. CREATED Aug 19, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Las Vegas police said they have arrested several people responsible for stealing catalytic converters from cars around the Las Vegas Valley.

Action News was there as undercover Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers raided a warehouse on Industrial near Interstate 15 and Sahara Avenue, seizing dozens of converters and making arrests.

Officers also raided another private residence on Sunblower Avenue and at the West Coast Core Company on South Highland Drive.

A total of seven people were arrested and hundreds of vehicle parts believed to be stolen were recovered.

The suspects are allegedly part of a theft ring, removing the catalytic converters from parked cars, stripping them of their precious metals and selling the scraps for a big profit.

Arrested in connection with this investigation so far were:

- Alex Wertheim, 47, of Las Vegas
- Dean Sbraccia, 44, of Las Vegas
- Michael Sbraccia, 43, of Las Vegas
- Dawn Yon, 21, of Las Vegas
- Charles Nicholas Smith, 36, of Las Vegas
- Michelle Susan Mourelatos, 49, of Las Vegas
- Daniel James Kelly, 41, of Las Vegas

The charges range from operating a chop-shop to receiving stolen property to grand larceny.

Police said catalytic converters are usually stolen because of the value of some of the materials from which they are constructed, such as platinum, palladium and iridium.

While the street value of these stolen components range between $75 and $150 for their scrap metal content, the cost to the victims for the repair of their vehicles can be thousands of dollars.

Police said there could potentially be hundreds of victims.