Three arrested after investigators recover 125 stolen catalytic converters – Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Craig Webre announced that three arrests have been made in a series of catalytic converter thefts in Lafourche Parish. Investigators arrested Jose Elizondo-Villarreal, 54, of Thibodaux, Steven Sparks Jr., 37, of Raceland and Percy Calloway Jr., 31, also of Raceland. Investigators also recovered 125 catalytic converters, many of which were believed to have been stolen.
In February 2022, members of the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division were assigned to investigate a number of catalytic converter thefts throughout the parish. Investigators learned that Sparks and Calloway stole catalytic converters and sold them to Elizondo-Villarreal who provided cash for the items without questioning the origin or keeping proper records of the sales.
On March 21, 2022, investigators saw Sparks drive away from a white truck on LA Highway 1 in Thibodaux, and they made contact with him. They found he had three catalytic converters that had been cut from vehicles, along with reciprocating saws, saw blades, car jacks and several small bags of methamphetamine. They learned that Sparks had stolen dozens of catalytic converters and sold them to Elizondo-Villarreal for cash.
With the help of the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Louisiana State Police, investigators conducted a search of Elizondo-Villarreal’s business and its transactions. They found him in possession of 122 catalytic converters, many of which were allegedly stolen.
Elizondo-Villarreal was arrested and incarcerated at the Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex in Thibodaux. He was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of stolen property and failure to keep proper receipts of business transactions (LA RS 37:1864). He was released on March 24, 2022, after posting $200,000 bond.
Sparks was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of stolen property, possession of tools for a crime, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, attempted robbery, robbery, and criminal trespassing. He remains at the correctional complex with bond set at $137,500.
Calloway had been in jail since March 5, 2022, when he was convicted of contempt and violation of protective orders, as well as property damage to Patterson. On March 25, he was also booked for theft and criminal trespassing. His bond is set at $128,500 and he is also being held for the Patterson Police Department.
The case remains under investigation and further arrests are possible.
Thefts of catalytic converters have increased worldwide in recent years due to the value of the precious metals inside. Since criminals have to crawl under a vehicle to saw off a catalytic converter, pickups, pickups, vans and SUVs that sit higher off the ground are more often targeted. Hybrid and electric vehicles are also targeted due to the amount of metals inside. Owners are encouraged to park their vehicles in garages, secure areas or well-lit areas whenever possible. The use of surveillance cameras can also help deter theft.