Police arrest four, charge them with stealing car parts

NORCROSS — Police said four men “out chopping cats” in the wee hours of the morning Friday in Norcross were arrested, as Gwinnett County officers caught them in the act of stealing catalytic converters from several cars.

Officers responded to an apartment complex parking lot on Sunrise Village Lane off Jimmy Carter Boulevard at about 3 a.m. Friday, finding the four alleged culprits in “wet and muddy” clothes, a police report said.

Two catalytic converters had been removed from a Land Rover in the parking lot, police said, as well as one from a Toyota 4Runner and an attempt at one on a Honda CRV. The converters, as well as two reciprocating saws, were found in the suspects’ vehicles.

After one suspect allegedly confessed, each member of the foursome was arrested and charged with three felony counts of theft by taking and one count of possession of tools for the commission of a crime.

Those arrested were: 24-year-old Pedro Cruz of Decatur, 26-year-old Mikal Sanders of Decatur, 21-year-old Abner Zabla of Lilburn and 23-year-old Khawja Shahriar of Norcross.

Catalytic converters contain valuable metals like platinum that attract thieves, Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said. Small amounts of those metals can make a quick profit for criminals.

Thieves can get up to $60 per converter, Ritter said.

“Meanwhile, it costs the owner several hundred dollars to replace,” he said.