Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 | 6:40 p.m.
Metro Police recovered hundreds of stolen vehicle parts today after arresting seven people accused of stealing catalytic converters.
The eight-month investigation culminated with Metro detectives and SWAT officers serving search warrants at two locations: a home in the 10000 block of Sunblower Ave., near Town Center Drive in the northwest valley, and at the West Coast Core Co., 2901 S. Highland Drive.
An increase in thefts of catalytic converters — a car part that converts harmful pollutants to less toxic emissions — spawned the investigation. Police said the thefts were occurring throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
Thieves tend to target catalytic converters because they contain metals such as platinum, palladium and iridium, police said. The street value for the scrap metal content can range from $75 to $100.
Police said a skilled thief can steal a catalytic converter in less than one minute. Such thefts, however, can cost victims’ thousands of dollars to replace and repair.
Detectives arrested the following seven people:
• Alex Wertheim, 47, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on one count of owning/operating a chop shop and 10 counts of attempting to buy, possess or receive stolen property.
• Dean Sbraccia, 44, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on 28 counts of grand larceny.
• Michael Sbraccia, 43, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on 36 counts of grand larceny.
• Dawn Yon, 21, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on 34 counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny.
• Charles Nicholas Smith, 36, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on one count of falsely attaching or removing a vehicle-identification number.
• Michelle Susan Mourelatos, 49, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on one count of falsely attaching or removing a vehicle-identification number. She also was arrested on several traffic-related warrants.
• Daniel James Kelly, 41, of Las Vegas, who was arrested on seven counts of grand larceny, two counts of attempted grand larceny and nine counts of destroying the property of another. He was arrested July 2 as part of this investigation.
Police ask anyone with information about this type of crime to contact Metro’s auto and construction theft section at 702-828-3586. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or visit crimestoppersofnv.com.