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Suspected Catalytic Converter Fence Operation Discovered in Novato

Novato Man Arrested After Investigation Leads to Discovery of Several Hundred Catalytic Converters in Storage Unit

Over the past year the Sheriff’s Office has seen a large increase in reports of the theft of Catalytic converters.

On March 24, 2021, thanks to an alert citizen, Marin County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to Novato Self Storage on Binford Road in Novato for the report of a subject cutting up exhaust parts in one of the storage units.  Upon arrival, Deputies contacted Abner Deleon Cifuentes and his long-term girlfriend Elizabeth Herrera.  They were in the process of actively cutting up catalytic converters.  Deputies estimated there were several hundred catalytic converters at the scene, along with evidence that indicated many more had been previously disassembled at that location.

Patrol Deputies requested assistance from the Marin County Auto Theft Taskforce.

The investigation conducted by the Marin County Auto Theft Taskforce showed the catalytic converters did not appear to have been lawfully removed by a mechanic.  Numerous factors led the detectives to believe the converters were stolen. Deleon Cifuentes and Herrera were unable to produce records (as required by law) showing where and from who each catalytic converter was received.

Deleon Cifuentes and Herrera were subsequently arrested and booked into the Marin County Jail on charges of Possession of Stolen Property, 496 PC; Failure to Maintain Records Related to the Purchase or Receipt of Used Catalytic Convertors, 21610 B&P; and Operating an Auto Dismantler Without a License, 11500 CVC. 

With the assistance of the Marin County Specialized Investigative Unit, a search warrant was served at Deleon Cifuentes and Herrera’s two storage units in unincorporated Novato, their residence in the City of Novato, and on both of their vehicles.  Through the investigation over 300 catalytic converters were recovered, with more than 60 of them being from Toyota Prius’ which have been the prime target of catalytic converter thefts throughout California.   Receipts located during the search warrant indicated Deleon Cifuentes and Herrera had been selling the catalytic converters to a recycler in Southern California.  The receipts showed they had sold over 2,500 catalytic converters since January 2021, and received several hundred thousand dollars from those sales.

This investigation is ongoing.

Contact: Sergeant Mike Brovelli at M_Brovelli@marinsheriff.org

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