San Jose police arrested 15 suspects for stealing and selling catalytic converters, but more interestingly, they say three auto shops were “knowingly purchasing stolen catalytic converters from street criminals.”

Kudos to the San Jose Police Department, not only for arresting 15 suspects in a catalytic converter theft ring, but also for having the cleverness to name this law enforcement sting “Operation Cat Scratch Thiever.” (Golf clap…)

Catalytic converter thefts are indeed a problem, not only in the Bay Area, but nationwide. With few tools and little expertise, one can hit parked cars under the guise of darkness and pull in lucrative hardware that resells for a few hundred bucks. And as NBC Bay Area points out, San Jose police say they “shut down three San Jose businesses that were suspected of knowingly purchasing stolen catalytic converters from street criminals,” and that these businesses “appeared to cater to thieves, often purchasing cut catalytic converters with no questions asked.”

And there’s an even uglier underbelly to all this. According to NBC Bay Area, “Police also believe at least one San Jose homicide was the result of a catalytic converter theft, when a victim confronted the suspects.”

"This lengthy operation is just another example of a proactive and thorough investigation that defines SJPD," police Chief Anthony Mata said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. "Our community has been increasingly plagued by these types of crimes, and I'm thankful for the collaborative efforts our detectives have taken with local jurisdictions and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office to arrest and prosecute these individuals, while deterring any other would-be copycat thieves in our city."

Credit to the police here, but they seem happy to splash the names and faces of the theft suspects, without also naming the stores that were allegedly on it. That would be helpful from a consumer standpoint! Because petty theft is a problem, but platforms where thieves can resell stolen goods may well be the primary enabler of this phenomenon.

Related: Another Smash-and-Grab Caught On Video, This Time in Golden Gate Park, and Victim Chased Down Thief [SFist]

Image: @GalariaMichelle via Twitter