Police: Catalytic converter thieves arrested after pursuit in Bloomington

Three people were arrested Monday afternoon following a pursuit in Bloomington.

The Bloomington Police Department said officers were called to a home near Nicollet Avenue and East 102nd Street just before 2 p.m. on a report of a catalytic converter theft in progress.

According to police, the caller noticed a vehicle parked next to his and feet sticking out from under his vehicle. He then yelled at the suspects, and two men got out from underneath his car and jumped into the black sedan parked next to his vehicle. The sedan then drove off.

The caller then noticed his vehicle’s catalytic converter was partially cut off.

Police were able to use the description of the suspect vehicle provided by the victim and found that a similar vehicle had been reported in prior catalytic converter thefts in the city.

A short time later, an officer saw the suspect vehicle heading east on Old Shakopee Road near 12th Avenue South and tried to stop it. When it fled, the officer pursued and followed it onto northbound Highway 77, then onto Interstate 494 westbound. After getting on the interstate, police say the officer performed a pursuit intervention technique (PIT) but the vehicle was able to flee again.

After a second PIT attempt, the suspect vehicle was stopped and the occupants ran away.

Police say all three were arrested. The 34-year-old driver was arrested without incident; the 27-year-old passenger tried to climb a fence and officers used a Taser on him before arresting him; and the 40-year-old passenger ran across all lanes of I-494 before he was caught near Great Wolf Lodge.

Inside their vehicle, officers found three catalytic converters, a vehicle jack and various tools. They were all booked in jail on numerous counts and formally charged on Wednesday.

Court documents state the driver, Lar Wah, admitted to driving and said the other two, Tha Say and Say Sam, would then get out, steal the catalytic converters and then get back in the vehicle. All three are charged with possession of theft tools and fourth-degree damage to property, and Wah also faces an additional charge of fleeing police.

Bloomington police noted catalytic converter thefts have increased in the city this year, with 403 already reported in 2022. Last year, 332 were reported all year in Bloomington.