After nearly three months since war was declared on the catalytic converters of Santa Fe (or at least the ones with high levels of precious metals found on Toyota trucks and SUVs), Santa Fe police have made an arrest.
Gerald Romero, 32, was arrested Sunday on Airport Road and served an unrelated magistrate court warrant charging him with failure to pay fines and also one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Jail records indicate it is Mr. Romero’s 35th booking into the Santa Fe County jail (not 35 convictions, but 35 times he’s been booked into jail).
Although he has not yet been charged in connection with any of the catalytic converter thefts in the Santa Fe area since late November (police say there have been around 100 stolen), Sgt. Peter Neal has said publicly that Romero is indeed a suspect, although Neal would not say how many converters they think he may have had a hand in stealing or how many other people may have been involved.
Catalytic converters, designed to reduce pollution from automobile exhaust, contain high levels of precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. With the prices of those metals high right now, scrap yards are paying good money for the parts, but not in Santa Fe, according to Neal.
One of the most interesting things about this recent crime trend that has been going on around the nation is that Albuquerque police have told me they haven’t been hit at all but Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Española and cities throughout the rest of the country have been. And no scrap yards purchasing the converters have seemed to be busted yet.
Here are links to some stories the New Mexican has published on the catalytic converter thefts with the most recent one announcing Romero as a suspect on top:
- Cops hunt suspect in catalytic converter heists (Feb. 18)
- Rash of catalytic converter thefts frustrates Toyota owners, police (Jan. 7)
- Burglars target precious metals on SUVs (Dec. 9)