Catalytic Converter Theft Foiled by Auto Crash

Two Rhode Island men were arraigned last week for the alleged theft of a catalytic converter and other offenses after they crashed while fleeing through a West Roxbury rotary, District Attorney Kevin Hayden said.

Joshua Ortiz, 21, and Yahir Rodriguez, 19, both of Providence, were arraigned in the West Roxbury Division of Boston Municipal Court yesterday.  Ortiz is charged with possession of burglarious instruments, conspiracy, receiving stolen property under $1,200 and trespass.  ADA Alexander Jones requested bail of $5,000 and that Ortiz be ordered to stay away from his co-defendant in the event he is to be released on bail.  Judge Stephen McClenon imposed $500 bail. Rodriguez is charged with possession of burglarious instruments, conspiracy, receiving stolen property under $1,200, attaching wrong plates to a motor vehicle and unlicensed operation.  He was also cited for speeding and failure to yield at an intersection in connection with the Wednesday crash.  Jones requested $500 bail and an order that Rodriguez stay away from his co-defendant; McClenon released him on personal recognizance.

At approximately 10:46 p.m. Wednesday, State Police responded to the scene of a collision the rotary at the intersection of VFW Parkway and West Roxbury Parkway.  Troopers received information that, following the crash, occupants of one of the involved vehicles replaced the Massachusetts license plate that had been on the red Toyota Rav4 and replaced it with Florida license plate, which could be observed hanging from the rear of the vehicle by a single screw. One of the occupants then fled through area yards with the Massachusetts plate and other items from the vehicle.

The vehicle’s driver, Rodriguez, remained on scene.  He was carrying a screwdriver in his pocket.

During a search of the area where the second occupant of the vehicle fled, police located a bag containing a used catalytic converter, two black ski masks, a battery-operated handsaw, 33 new and used blades for the handsaw, a battery and charging dock for the tool and a wallet with a Rhode Island ID and credit cards in Rodriguez’ name.  A license plate was also located in a nearby yard; it was subsequently reported stolen from a vehicle registered in West Roxbury.

While handcuffed and in police custody, Rodriguez continued to attempt to look at his phone, which received a number of text communications from a contact who appeared in the phone as “Josh.”  The text chain was open on the phone and visible to police. Incoming messages referenced a car crash and stated that individuals were enroute to the crash scene to pick up Rodriguez.  Troopers remained in the area and observed a vehicle pull into a driveway that none of the vehicle’s occupants had any connection to.  Among the occupants was Joshua Ortiz, who matched the physical description of the individual seen fleeing the crash.

Ortiz and Ramirez’ arrests came as law enforcement have observed an increase in catalytic converter thefts. 

“This was not a crime of opportunity, nor was it a crime of necessity.  The facts reflect an organized, criminal conspiracy that brought these individuals into Boston from another state in order to take advantage of our communities and neighbors.  My office will continue our work to hold accountable anyone who commits these offenses while working with our partners in law enforcement and government to protect our communities,” Hayden said.

Ortiz and Ramirez return to court October 7.

All charged individuals are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden’s office serves the communities of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Mass. The office handles over 20,000 cases a year. More than 160 attorneys in the office practice in nine district and municipal courts, Suffolk Superior Court, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court, and the Boston Juvenile Courts. The office employs some 300 people and offers a wide range of services and programs to serve anyone who comes in contact with the criminal legal system. This office is committed to educating the public about the services we provide, our commitment to crime prevention, and our dedication to keeping the residents of Suffolk County safe.

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