Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced his office charged two Kane County men for allegedly removing catalytic converters from more than 35 privately-owned vehicles across northern Illinois.
Raoul’s office charged Pedro Villegas-Mendoza, 22, and Octavio Goytia, 28, both of Aurora, Illinois with two counts of theft greater than $10,000, Class 1 felonies punishable by up to four to 15 years in prison; and one count of aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to four to 15 years in prison.
Villegas-Mendoza was also charged with 38 counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, Class 2 felonies punishable by up to three to seven years prison; and 38 counts of burglary, Class 2 felonies punishable by up to three to seven years prison. Goytia was also charged with 36 counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, Class 2 felonies punishable by up to three to seven years prison; and 36 counts of burglary, Class 2 felonies punishable by up to three to seven years prison.
Bond for both Villegas-Mendoza and Goytia was set at $350,000. Their next court date is Aug. 14.
“While a vehicle can still operate without a catalytic converter, removing it will release toxic gases and pollutants into the air,” Raoul said. “These charges are the result of close collaboration by my office with multiple state’s attorneys and law enforcement agencies to investigate thefts in eight Chicagoland counties. I am committed to ensuring these individuals are held accountable and ultimately to keeping our communities and environment safe.”
In documents filed with the DuPage County Circuit Court, Raoul alleges that from August 2021 through March 2022, Villegas-Mendoza and Goytia worked together to steal catalytic converters from vehicles in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, DeKalb, Lake, McHenry and Winnebago counties. According to Raoul, Villegas-Mendoza and Goytia traveled across the eight counties and in broad daylight removed the catalytic converters by jacking up vehicles and using a saw to remove the converter.
A catalytic converter is a bulbous piece of metal from a vehicle’s exhaust system that filters fumes and reduces harmful car emissions. It uses elements of platinum, palladium and rhodium metals, which can be sold for profit.
Raoul’s office filed the charges after a nearly two-year investigation in collaboration with several states attorneys and law enforcement agencies. A multi-county investigation was led by detectives from the Carol Stream and Wood Dale police departments in DuPage County after local residents were victimized by these thefts. The Aurora and Schaumburg police departments and the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office also assisted with the investigation.
Attorney General Raoul’s office will prosecute the case. The public is reminded the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Deputy Chief John Brassil is handling the case for Raoul’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.