WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE. From the Office of the Westchester County District Attorney. December 29,2022:
Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah has announced a 24-count indictment of five men in connection with the countywide theft of 56 van and bus catalytic converters with a fair market value of more than $50,000.
The year-long investigation, conducted by 13 law enforcement agencies, led to a coordinated takedown of the five men alleged to have participated in the five-month stealing spree.
DA Rocah said: “This case sends a clear message that Westchester County is cracking down on catalytic converter thefts, a nationwide scourge plaguing car owners with thousands of dollars in replacement costs and damages. I applaud the efforts taken by the criminal investigators in my Office and all of our law enforcement partners in continuing to protect Westchester residents and businesses from fraud and theft.”
The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office initiated the investigation with the Briarcliff Manor Police Department, the Greenburgh Police Department, the New Rochelle Police Department, and the Pelham Manor Police Department, which identified Timothy Jimenez, 24, Christian Ancrum, 23, and Jason Vargas, 19, all of New Rochelle, and Joealen Garcia, 31, of Orlando, Florida, as the individuals who allegedly participated in the theft of a total of 56 catalytic convertors from Ford Econoline vans, Royal Coach Lines buses, and school buses in Briarcliff, Greenburgh, Peekskill, Pelham, and Yonkers on 11 different occasions between November 21, 2021 and March 28, 2022. At least 42 of the stolen catalytic converters were recovered in a Bronx scrap yard.
The investigation also identified a fifth defendant, Nicholas Luzardi, 23, of New Rochelle, who is alleged to have been in possession of stolen catalytic convertors in Pelham Manor on January 28, 2022.
Assisting in the investigation were the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the North Castle Police Department, the Peekskill Police Department, the Yonkers Police Department, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey.
Jimenez, Vargas and Luzardi were arraigned in Westchester County Court on December 22, 2022. Ancrum is scheduled to be arraigned on January 5, 2023. Garcia will be arraigned following his arrest.
A Westchester County Grand Jury indicted the defendants on the following charges:
· Jimenez was charged with six counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, six counts of Auto Stripping in the First Degree, three counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, all felonies, and three counts of Auto Stripping in the Third Degree, misdemeanors.
· Ancrum was charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, two counts of Auto Stripping in the First Degree, three counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and three counts of Auto Stripping in the Third Degree.
· Garcia was charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, two counts of Auto Stripping in the First Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree.
· Vargas was charged with three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, three counts of Auto Stripping in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Auto Stripping in the Third Degree.
· Luzardi was charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree.
Stolen catalytic converters carry a resale value averaging $300 each at scrap yards, and up to $1,000 on the black market, for the precious metals they contain, such as palladium, platinum and rhodium.
Larger vehicles, trucks and SUVs are often targeted because the larger-sized catalytic converters carry higher values, and because the height of the vehicle from the ground allows for easier access to steal the catalytic converters.
The case is before Judge George Fufidio in Westchester County Court, and is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney and Auto Crimes Coordinator Adrian Murphy of the Trials and Investigations Division.
The charges against the defendants are merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.