ORLANDO, Fla. – On Monday, UCF Police said they confiscated a trunk-load of catalytic converters that had been sawed-off the exhaust pipes from the undersides of cars across the UCF campus and all over Central Florida.
UCF PD detectives Alex DeLuca and Melissa Guadagnino broke up the theft ring after the first student called to say his Honda Element had been hit last week.
“[They were] all over the place - Orange County, the UCF campus, Kissimmee, Orlando,” DeLuca said. “We know that from the time they started on our campus, it was only an hour or hour and a half before we were made aware of it and started the investigation.”
DeLuca and Gaudagnino honed in on a rental car with Texas plates spotted on their campus-wide surveillance cameras and two young men with tools in their hands, including a saw.
The rental car company in Texas was able to track the car and then detectives arrested Tyre Deante Smith and Kentrail Traveon McDaniel at an Orlando airport hotel.
Both men are from Houston, Texas, the same city where Orlando police said another pair of suspects came from last month, busted in a hotel room full of stolen catalytic converters near Universal Orlando.
“We do believe they may be linked as far as a group and the individuals coming down here but again this is still an active case so we’re still trying to put all the pieces together,” ‘DeLuca said.
Detectives said typically the greener the car, the higher-value target it is. More fuel-efficient vehicles contain catalytic converters with more precious metals.
DeLuca suggested painting your catalytic converter a bright color or etching numbers or letters into it because converters don’t have serial numbers. DeLuca said marking your converter might deter a crook enough to move on to an unmarked one.