By Gina Martinez
A Whitestone man was charged with stealing more than a dozen catalytic converters from parked cars throughout the borough in a spree that lasted almost two months, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The DA said 33-year-old Michael Cipriati allegedly stole the converters and sold the parts to a recycling facility in the Bronx for cash. Cipriati was arraigned last week in Queens Criminal Court on a complaint charging him with criminal mischief, grand larceny, auto stripping, criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny, criminal possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, the DA said.
According to the criminal charges, between Oct. 20 and Dec. 6, 2017 Cipriati removed 15 catalytic converters from parked cars in Flushing, Astoria, Long Island City, College Point, Jackson Heights, Little Neck and Sunnyside Gardens. The make and models of the cars Cipriati allegedly stole the parts from included a Toyota Prius, Honda Odyssey and Mercedes Benz.
Brown said with the price of scrap metal continuing to increase, thieves are growing more brazen with their schemes.
“While stolen catalytic converters can reportedly fetch a thief a few hundred dollars, the cost to the car owners is much higher – in both replacing the expensive device as well as a possible jump in car insurance rates,” the DA said.
According to the charges, Cipriati was seen removing the catalytic converters from vehicles and cell phone records revealed that his cell phone was in the area at the time the car parts were swiped. On at least 11 of the occasions the catalytic converters were stolen, the defendant was allegedly selling the car part for that vehicle on the same day to Alpha Recycling in the Bronx, the charges said.
Brown said his office has made great strides in reducing auto and auto-related thefts in Queens and that since his first year as DA in 1991 the rate of vehicle thefts in Queens has dropped by more than 90 percent.
“This accomplishment can be attributed in part to driving home this message: If you steal autos and auto parts in Queens County, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” he said.
The charges also said that at the time of Cipriati’s arrest he was driving a Mercedes Benz while his license was suspended and found with two Oxycodone pills in his possession.
According to the DA, Cipriati faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
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