CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Officers responding to a call of a stolen vehicle in Chowchilla say they happened upon much more, and the call ended with the discovery of a pile of stolen catalytic converters and another vehicle that hadn’t yet been reported missing.

Officers with the Chowchilla Police Department say they were initially dispatched to a call of a vehicle theft in the 400 block of North 2nd Street around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.

They also say that while they were investigating the call, someone told the vehicle’s owner they’d just seen the stolen minivan parked along a dirt shoulder a quarter-mile away on Chowchilla Boulevard, just north of Kings Avenue. 

Police then moved their investigation to that location, and upon their arrival, they say they found a parked white Chevy 2500 with the minivan attached to it by a tow kit and the driver carrying tools in his hands.

Investigators say the suspect, 28-year-old Luis Contreras-Chaves of Anaheim, CA, had 15 cut catalytic converters and burglary and cutting tools inside the truck. Additionally, officers say they found a second unreported stolen vehicle 200 yards away, determined to also have been towed out there by Contreras-Chaves, with it’s catalytic converter cut out.

Contreras-Chaves was booked into the Madera County Jail early Thursday morning on a dozen charges, both felony and misdemeanor, including possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, grand theft, and vandalism.

The Chowchilla Police Department is trying to identify other burglarized vehicles in the city. It advises if you live in the area and your vehicle’s catalytic converter has been stolen you can contact the department’s non-emergency line at (559) 665-8600.