January 10, 2008

San Leandro Store Owner Charged With Buying Stolen Catalytic Converters

Christopher Panarra, 44, owner of Converters West, was arrested today and charged with buying stolen catalytic converters from undercover police officers. According to CHP Sgt. Les Bishop, the store was a "central delivery and processing location for the stolen converters." Police reported that 40 stolen cars have been recovered and 14 other people have been arrested as part of the investigation.

There were 1,267 automobile thefts reported in San Leandro in 2007. According to San Leandro Police Chief Dale Attarian, four stolen cars were found at one address in Oakland, all with their catalytic converters removed. In the November 28, 2007, San Leandro Times, one resident noted that the catalytic converter from his vehicle had been stolen three times in eight months while parked at the San Leandro BART station.

Catalytic converters use precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium to reduce emissions from motor vehicle exhaust. These precious metals are what make catalytic converters so expensive.

Converters West sells remanufactured catalytic converters and is located at 1669 Abram Court in San Leandro.

Coverage from the Daily Review, San Francisco Chonicle and KTVU.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at January 10, 2008 1:50 PM | TrackBack

It's my understand Councilman Diana Souza was VP of Operations for Converters West. It would seem the investigation was ongoing during her time of employment there, but I'm not certain of the dates.

That does not at all equate to complicity, but it is worth noting the connection, as it would be for any elected official.

Posted by: Tim at January 11, 2008 12:44 PM
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