Las Cruces Teens Charged With Stealing Truck's Catalytic Converter In Mall Parking Lot

Las Cruces – Las Cruces Police arrested two teenagers Wednesday evening after they were caught stealing the catalytic converter from a pickup parked at the Mesilla Valley Mall.

Jesus Salas, of 6515 Fox Rd., and Hector H. Carrate, of 1125 Poplar Ave., both 18, are charged with one count each of larceny over $500 and conspiracy to commit a larceny. Salas also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

At around 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, a Mesilla Valley Mall security guard was on routine patrol in the parking lot when he spotted Salas and Carrate at a 2000 Toyota Tundra. The pickup had its hood raised and the security guard witnessed Carrate pouring water over the engine. As the security guard approached the pickup he noticed Salas underneath the vehicle using a cutting tool to remove the catalytic converter.

Police were called, and Salas and Carrate were subsequently arrested.

Catalytic converters remove toxins from vehicle exhaust systems and contain precious metals, including platinum. Stolen catalytic converters are usually sold to scrap yards or recyclers.

Pickups and sports utility vehicles are targeted more often because their higher ground clearances make it easier for the perpetrator to crawl underneath and remove the converter from the vehicle.

Salas and Carrate were both transported to the Dona Ana County Detention Center. Salas, because he had an outstanding warrant, is being held without bond while Carrate is being held on a $5,000 bond.