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Catalytic converter thefts reported at Sacramento Airport, suspect arrested

<i>KCRA</i><br/>The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man in connection to a string of catalytic converter thefts at Sacramento International Airport.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man in connection to a string of catalytic converter thefts at Sacramento International Airport.

By Orko Manna

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man in connection to a string of catalytic converter thefts at Sacramento International Airport.

The sheriff’s office said Ryan Kary was taken into custody Wednesday by the Sacramento Sheriff Airport Problem Oriented Policing (POP) team, with help from the Major Crimes Bureau.

Detectives found four stolen guns, over 100 rounds of ammunition, $3,159 in cash and two catalytic converters during a search of Kary’s home.

Sgt. Amar Gandhi, spokesperson for Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, said most of the items recovered are believed to have been stolen from vehicles parked at various parking lots and garages at Sacramento International Airport (SMF).

“Spanning back for the past few months, probably from about January or so, there’s been a rash of these vehicle burglaries and these catalytic converter thefts, ranging in the couple dozen range,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi told KCRA 3 that there have been approximately 10-15 reported catalytic converter thefts at SMF since January. Kary is suspected of taking at least half of them, according to rough estimates from the sheriff’s office.

“We don’t have an exact count yet. On that last search warrant, we did recover two there. That’s not counting some of the ones that he has likely offloaded or gotten off to recyclers,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi said detectives were able to link Kary to the crimes at SMF through different kinds of evidence, including surveillance footage from SMF. But KCRA 3 asked what the sheriff’s office is doing to take a more proactive approach and try to prevent these thefts from happening in the first place.

“They’re obviously looking at impacted times, increasing patrols at that time, enhancing surveillance equipment during some of those more vulnerable areas,” Gandhi said, in response.

Scott Johnston, senior public information officer for SMF, also sent KCRA 3 the following statement regarding security measures at the airport in light of the recent catalytic converter thefts:

“Here at SMF we take the safety of our customers and staff very serious. We have additional personnel patrolling our parking lots and we always encourage our employees to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity. There are cameras in many of the lots and our Sheriff’s deputies work diligently to keep our campus safe and secure by conducting additional patrols throughout the Airport.”

Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise in Sacramento County in recent years. Auto shops and mechanics are seeing this trend too, including Muffler Tech owner Colby Sandman.

“We see on average anywhere between 5 and 10 vehicles a day for stolen converters,” Sandman said.

Sandman told KCRA 3 that he has even noticed an increase in customers coming to replace catalytic converters that were stolen at SMF.

“The airport is becoming more common,” Sandman said. “Lately, we’ve heard quite a few at the airport. Really since COVID’s gone away, it’s starting to happen at different places such as movie theaters. We get people that are shopping, grocery stores, Costco, Target, it happens to them.”

Sandman said he recommends that drivers get a comprehensive insurance policy for their vehicles, including models that are a few years old. He added that it is not just new cars that are targets.

“What we’ve noticed recently is the thieves are tending to just kind of target whatever they can get their hands on. I wouldn’t call it a free-for-all, but if you have a car that’s 3, 4, 5 years or older, absolutely be cautious around it,” Sandman said. “Older have catalytic converters that are higher value, so those tend to be a higher target.”

Kary was arrested on several felony charges and was booked into custody but the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said detectives believe Kary has committed other unreported thefts, and authorities are still trying to connect items recovered from Kary’s house to their rightful owners.

“Maybe he’s involved in things that we don’t know about quite yet, crimes that have been unreported,” Gandhi said. “There are a lot of other items that were recovered that could have been from baggage, could have been from other areas as well.”

If you believe Kary took part in a crime or have any other information about theft cases at SMF, contact the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office at (916) 874-5115.

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