In recent months several catalytic converter thefts have occurred in the southern area of Sonoma County including the City of Cotati jurisdiction. Most of the catalytic converter thefts were taken from Toyota Prius vehicles.
Cotati officers conducted a proactive surveillance using a bicycle and an undercover vehicle during the time element of the previous catalytic converter thefts.
On Aug. 11 a white Mercedes Benz was seen driving slowly in the residential areas of Cotati around 2:41 a.m. A license plate check of the vehicle revealed that the Mercedes was registered to a Sacramento address.
Cotati officers stopped the Mercedes in a neighborhood south of Myrtle Ave. in Cotati and found the vehicle was occupied by the driver Xiong, 33-years-old from Sacramento and his passenger Rachel Briana Ontivero, 33-years-old also from Sacramento.
On the floorboard of the Mercedes officers found several tools that would enable catalytic converter theft. A floor jack, a cordless impact wrench, pipe cutters and a reciprocating saw were recovered. Upon further inventory search the officers found a Toyota Prius catalytic converter which had been cut and in the trunk of the Mercedes. Officers also discovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the Mercedes.
Upon stopping Xiong gave the officers a false name and was using a suspended license. He was booked into Sonoma County Jail with charges of giving false identification to a Peace Officer, receiving possession of stolen property (a felony), possessing burglary tools and possessing a controlled substance, possessing drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. Ontiveros was also booked into the Sonoma County Jail.