Whitestone man gets a year in prison for stealing catalytic converters from parked cars in Queens

A catalytic converter
Photo via Shutterstock

A Whitestone man paid the price on Monday for stealing catalytic converters from more than a dozen parked vehicles in Queens, then selling the devices to scrappers for cash.

Michael Cipriati, 34, of 11th Avenue, pleaded guilty in May to second-degree auto stripping, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. At his June 25 sentencing, Cipriati was ordered to serve a full year in prison.

“With the price of scrap metal continuing to increase, this mechanically inclined defendant brazenly stole the parts and then sold them to a recycling facility in the Bronx for cash,” Brown said in a statement.

Between Oct. 20 and Dec. 6, 2017, prosecutors said, Cipriati removed 15 catalytic converters from parked cars across Queens, including in Astoria, College Point, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, Little Neck and Sunnyside Gardens. The victimized vehicles ranged from sedans like a Toyota Prius or a Acura TL, to vans such as a Ford Econoline or a Dodge sprinter, and SUVs like a Honda Element or a Mitsubishi Outlander.

Located near a vehicle’s muffler, a catalytic converter reduces the amount of pollutants in exhaust created by the engine. Within the metal compartment is a filtration mechanism that contains precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.

On at least 11 occasions, law enforcement sources said, Cipriati sold the converters he had just stolen to Alpha Recycling in the Bronx.

Detectives were able to connect Cipriati to the crimes through an examination of his cellphone records, which put him at the scene of each theft at the time they occurred.

Cops finally hit the brakes on Cipriati’s scheme after observing him driving a Mercedes-Benz with a suspended license. At the time of his arrest, he was also found in possession of two Oxycodone pills.