Berkeley, CA

BPD: Catalytic converter thief dumped car, said it was stolen

The Berkeley Scanner

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A catalytic converter theft suspect ditched his car last week while trying to evade capture by Berkeley police. Then he said the car had been stolen, authorities report.

Police arrested him after he showed up at the station to pick up his vehicle.

On May 31, Berkeley police were called to the 2200 block of Virginia Street in North Berkeley, near Oxford Street, to investigate a catalytic converter theft report at 11:45 p.m.

A local resident interrupted the crime, police said, and the thief swung a metal tool at his head, "narrowly missing him."

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The thief fled in his vehicle, but an officer spotted him and tried to stop him, according to Berkeley police.

The thief drove away but eventually jumped out and ran, abandoning the vehicle in the area of Eighth and Camelia streets in northwest Berkeley.

Police set up a perimeter and searched for the man but were unable to find him.

Officers then impounded the vehicle and found four catalytic converters inside, BPD said.

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Berkeley is nearly keeping pace with last year's rate of catalytic converter thefts, which reached a historic high, according to BPD data. Transparency Hub

The next day, the vehicle was reported stolen to the Oakland Police Department.

OPD was able to see that BPD had towed the car and alerted BPD about the report.

BPD was then able to determine that the registered owner of the vehicle was the same man who had run off the night before, police said.

When he came to the Berkeley police station to arrange to get his car back, he was arrested on suspicion of grand theft, assault with a deadly weapon, evading officers and filing a false police report, according to BPD.

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Police said the man, identified as 26-year-old Jheferson Trivinovargas, had a prior arrest related to catalytic converter theft.

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Jheferson Trivinovargas. BPD

The Berkeley Scanner added his booking photograph to this story when it was provided after publication.

As of this week, Trivinovargas is out of custody and has not been charged, according to court records online.

Berkeley has already had 312 catalytic converter theft reports this year, according to BPD's Transparency Hub data portal.

Last year, which reached a historic peak with 846 reports, Berkeley averaged about 16 catalytic converter thefts each week.

This year the weekly average is running closer to 14, according to the Transparency Hub.

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