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Investigators honored for theft ring arrests

Updated: February 21, 2014 6:16AM

Two Aurora Police Special Operations Group investigators are being honored for capturing two suspects involved in a theft ring that targeted catalytic converters.

Investigators Abel Villanueva and Cottrell Webster were chosen to be Employees of the Month for November for their actions that began when they were working an unrelated undercover detail just inside Naperville’s border along Route 59.

As they drove through a retail parking lot they spotted a vehicle driving methodically up and down the parking rows. After positioning themselves in a location to keep an eye on the vehicle, they saw it stop by a Chevrolet Cavalier and two occupants exited and did something near the Cavalier before re-entering their vehicle and continue driving up and down the rows of parked cars.

When the two investigators checked the Cavalier, they noticed the muffler and tailpipe hanging from the bottom of the car.

Knowing there had been a rash of catalytic converter thefts in the area, Villanueva and Webster alerted both Aurora and Naperville dispatchers and continued to keep their eyes on the suspects.

Eventually, the vehicle went to a different parking lot in the area and the occupants continued their suspicious activity. When the suspects stopped by another Cavalier, the two detectives said they literally caught the thieves “red-handed” as they were in the process of stealing another catalytic converter.

The suspects were interviewed and charged by Naperville Police.

“Due to their observation skills and knowledge of criminal activity in Aurora and surrounding areas, Investigators Villanueva and Webster identified and arrested suspects that are allegedly responsible for multiple catalytic converter thefts in the region,” said Aurora Chief of Police Greg Thomas. “Their actions are certainly commendable and illustrate their dedication to the citizens they serve.”

Villanueva began his Aurora police career in 2007, while Webster started with the department in 1997.

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