Shmira Assists NYPD in Busting Three Alleged Catalytic Converter Thieves in Boro Park

By Matis Glenn


Three men were arrested Sunday in Boro Park after allegedly stealing 10 catalytic converters, the latest in a string of thefts that have left New York City car owners on edge in recent months.

At 4:00am on 18th Avenue and 47th Street, Shmira volunteers heard the all-too-familiar sounds of metal cutting, and saw a suspect hack off the prized car part from a car he had jacked up. He and another suspect, presumed to be a lookout, entered a white Mercedes sedan and took off.

Their spoils in “tow”, the bandits drove down 47th Street, as the Shmira members alerted police. At 16th Avenue, NYPD turned on to 47th. A different Shmira member, who was on 13th Avenue, headed off the suspects on 47th Street and 12th Avenue, blocking their ability to proceed down the block.

Shmira members often use their cars as blockades, leaving them in the middle of the street once police are in pursuit of a suspect. “We’re not afraid of criminals crashing into our cars,” Zevi Klein, a Shmira member told Hamodia. “The security of our neighborhood is more important.”

As seen on video footage, when the suspects were cornered on 12th Avenue and 47th Street, the police announced over a loudspeaker to turn their car off, after the driver tried to find a way to escape the blockade. “Don’t do it,” they warned, after the car continued to move around, bumping slightly into the Shmira car in front and the police cruiser behind them. A police officer approached the car with his gun drawn, ordering the suspects to put their hands up. The driver proceeds to fling the car door open, which Klein says is a threatening behavior. “When a suspect opens a car door quickly, it could be that he has a weapon and wants to make his move as fast as possible,” Klein said. “Cops want people to come out slowly, so they can get a clear visual.”

The driver darted away from police, on to 12th Avenue. Police and Shmira members chased him and he was arrested in front of the Park House Hotel on 12th Avenue and 48th Street.

 The suspect in the passenger’s seat ran the opposite way, towards New Utrecht Avenue; he too was apprehended on New Utrecht and 48th Street. A third man, Steven Fermin, remained in the car and gave himself up to police without incident. Suspects Dennis Del La Cruz ,24, Juriel Ramos 28, and Fermin, 25, were all arrested on charges of grand larceny. All three were ultimately arraigned on fourth degree criminal mischief, petit larceny, third degree auto stripping, and fifth degree criminal possession of stolen property.

Catalytic converter thefts are a fast, easy way for criminals to make money.

“It takes mere minutes to jack up the car and remove the converter,” Klein said. “They’re fast and efficient.”

Catalytic converters are valuable, containing expensive metals such as platinum, that serve as catalysts in a system that converts harmful engine exhaust into steam. They’re sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars, to people who are able to process the part and extract the precious metals. Thieves know to target Honda, Acura and older Hyundai cars.

“We’re seeing thefts literally everyday in the frum community,” Levy Liefer of Shmira tells Hamodia. “People wake up in the morning, can’t move their cars, and wonder what happened to their car. They’ll go to the mechanic and find out that thugs came in the middle of the night and stole their catalytic converter.”

Shmira hopes to get the thieves to “cut” it out in Boro Park.

While the bandits probably won’t be in jail for very long, Klein says that the goal is to “get them to stop targeting our neighborhoods. They’re know we’re out there, they’ll hear stories of how others were caught, and they won’t return.”

Last month, Shmira assisted police in arresting five people in two thefts within three days. Both thefts occurred within close proximity to one another; one on 13th Avenue and 50th Street, and the other on 47th Street between 13th and 14th Avenues.

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