PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Two men accused of stealing more than a dozen catalytic converters in Port St. Lucie have been arrested.
Investigators with the Port St. Lucie Police Department identified the suspects as Gerardo Reygada, 53, and Pedro Wong, 56. Both are from Miami and have an extensive criminal history.
Just after 12:30 a.m. Monday, patrol officers spotted a white Mercedes-Benz SUV without headlights on in the area of Bayshore Boulevard and Thornhill Drive.
Police said once they pulled it over and saw Wong in the passenger seat, it didn't take long to realize something wasn't right.
"He was sweating profusely," Detective Timothy Herring said. "He was covered in what appeared to be motor oil. He was covered in dust and mud as well."
During the traffic stop, 13 stolen catalytic converters were found. Eight of them were from work trucks at Massey Pest Control nearby. The business had been targeted by vandals once before back in May.
"They were aftermarket catalytic converters that were cut off of the vehicles and we were able to obtain those invoices from those repairs," Herring said.
Police also recovered power saws, a ski mask, battery packs and other burglary tools.
Wong and Reygada remain in jail on a $385,000 bond and face multiple charges, including eight counts of grand theft.
Catalytic converter thefts continue to rise all throughout the U.S. and on the Treasure Coast.
After they're cut off, thieves typically sell them to scrap yards and make a profit off the metals found inside.
Investigators said that, so far this year, there have been 52 cases and nine arrests in Port St. Lucie. Despite the increase, Herring advised there are steps residents and business owners can take to help prevent the crime.
"Security surveillance is everything," Herring said. "There's motion wires they put inside of a fence that will alert to any motion and definitely alarms."