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5 arrested in Thanksgiving weekend catalytic converter thefts

Deputies say suspects traveled from North Carolina
catalytic converter thefts in St. Lucie County during Thanksgiving weekend in 2022
Posted at 11:17 AM, Nov 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-27 19:08:57-05

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Five suspects have been arrested in connection with what deputies are calling a large-scale catalytic converter theft operation in St. Lucie County.

St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office deputies said the suspects, who traveled from North Carolina, are responsible for about 180 catalytic converter thefts near the 2600 block of Center Road in Fort Pierce during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Sheriff Ken Mascara said the closing manager of an area business called 911 Friday night after noticing two suspicious ladders positioned along a perimeter wall.

Deputies arrived and apprehended four suspects – Carlos Martinez, 30, Carlos Bonnila, 51, Jose Hernandez, 51, and Jose Funez, 39. A fifth suspect, Ladonte Hill, 29, was later identified and apprehended at a nearby hotel.

"Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves for their precious metals," Mascara said. "With the arrest of these five individuals, we hope to deny their precious freedom for a long time so they don't victimize anyone else."

All five suspects face charges of burglary to an occupied structure, possession of burglary tools with intent to use and grand theft.