LIVERMORE (CBS13) — A grab-and-go crime with major operations in Stockton and Placer County was busted by police.

The Livermore Police Department said its officers uncovered a massive catalytic converter theft ring.

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Police say even they were surprised by the scale of this operation, which has been under investigation for nearly a year. They recovered 50 catalytic converters, around $91,000 in cash, illegal guns and drugs. So far, 30 suspects have been identified, but investigators believe more are still out there.

Catalytic converters are a tempting target for thieves. It’s high-paying crime that can be done in 60 seconds.

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Investigators say a tip from someone in the city came in after a truck was spotted slowly circling a neighborhood. After following the trail of stolen parts, officers were led to “drop houses” in Stockton and Livermore.

“For it to be so bold, it was quite the discovery and we were really happy to be able to serve search warrants and seize all that property,” one officer said.

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And speaking of bold, when the lower-level thieves were arrested, investigators say the ring leaders would go down to the jail and post their bail so they could get back out and steal again.

Adrienne Moore