Two Lawrenceville residents and a Norcross resident were arrested by Duluth police last Friday and are accused of stealing the catalytic converters from several cars.
Lawrenceville resident David Lopez, 32, Norcross resident Justin Feliciano-Onofre, 24, and Lawrenceville resident Kimberly Joya, 26, face charges of entering automobile or other motor vehicle with intent to commit theft or felony, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, loitering and prowling, with Joya also facing a charge of acquiring a license plate to conceal identification of a motor vehicle.
Duluth police were dispatched to 3550 Pleasant Hill Road at about 1:45 a.m. on July 23 on a call about a theft in progress. Officer Hector Rodriguez wrote in his report that dispatchers told officers to be on the lookout for a white BMW SUV that the suspects were believed to be traveling in. As Rodriguez was traveling west on Pleasant Hill Road, he saw a white BMW SUV that was also traveling west on the road, so he pulled the vehicle over and another officer arrived to provide backup.
“I ordered the driver to step out of the vehicle followed by the front passenger then the rear passenger one at a time,” Rodriguez wrote in the report. “All three suspects were detained and placed in handcuffs to the rear (checked for fit and double locked) and the vehicle was cleared. While clearing the vehicle a red cordless saw machine was in plain view on the back passenger seat. In the trunk of the vehicle in plain view there were two catalytic converters that appeared to have been sawed off. The three subjects in the vehicle identified themselves as David Lopez in the passenger seat, Justin Feliciano-Onofre in the rear passenger seat, and Kimberly Joya in the driver seat.”
Rodriguez said in his report that Lopez and Feliciano-Onofre agreed to speak with him after he read them their Miranda Rights, and Lopez allegedly claimed the trio had been at a car meet at a BP gas station on Pleasant Hill Road and they were helping Joya move out. Their names were checked by dispatchers, however, and it was discovered that none of them lived in the apartment complex where the 911 call came from, the officer wrote in the report.
Lopez allegedly told Rodriguez that they went by the apartment complex that the 911 call came from because Joya was looking for a place to live. Rodriguez asked Lopez again why they were there and he reportedly said they stopped at the apartment complex because Feliciano-Onofre had to use a restroom.
“I then advised David that a resident saw them in his complex and gave a description of what they were wearing and driving a white BMW SUV and saw them tampering with another vehicle,” Rodriguez said in the report. “David began speaking to Justin in Spanish stating ‘What did you do when you got off the vehicle you know I can’t go to jail I have a business to run if you did something go ahead and tell him.’ Justin did not reply back to David. A drive by with the witness inside of a patrol car was done and the witness confirmed the occupants and the vehicle. All three occupants were placed under arrest.”
A red saw machine was retrieved from the SUV and the report states the blade was still warm, which Rodriguez said indicated it had recently been used. Another saw blade was allegedly found wrapped in a clear plastic bag in Lopez’s sweater.
Feliciano-Onofre then reportedly confessed while officers were searching him.
“As I began to start searching Justin he stated in Spanish, ‘It was me I needed some extra cash I took the items inside the car,’” Rodriguez said in the report. “I then asked if he was referring to the catalytic converters and he stated ‘Yes.’ Justin was then placed in the rear of the patrol car with David and was seat belted in. Another officer located the victims vehicle, a Toyota Sequoia, and stated it was missing two catalytic converters. The victim was contacted and he confirmed his vehicle was missing two catalytic converters. The pipe system on the catalytic converters had red residue from what appeared to be from the red saw blades found on the subjects.”