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Parts were discovered missing in January

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FARMINGTON — A Farmington man allegedly stole 150 catalytic converters from vehicles at a San Juan County auto salvage yard worth about $22,000.

David Jabalera, 41, is accused of a second-degree felony count of larceny, according to court records.

He is accused of stealing $22,500 worth of property from Highway 64 Truck and Auto Salvage at 4551 U.S. Highway 64, west of Farmington, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Jabalera did not have legal representation on Feb. 6.

A San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputy was dispatched to Highway 64 Truck and Auto Salvage on reports of stolen property.

Owner Chad Burson spoke to the deputy for the larceny report. Burson declined to comment on the investigation.

Burson told the deputy he noticed something odd when he visited the storage lot on Jan. 31. He observed several vehicles that were propped up in an unusual way.

The cars had all left or right front tires propped up and resting on a stack of old tires. He noticed all the vehicles he checked were missing catalytic converters.

Burson went on to describe how he learned Jabalera was allegedly involved and how he confronted the defendant twice before firing him.

Jabalera was the only person employed at the time as a parts puller who went to the storage lot at the auto salvage's old location.

Burson told the deputy he confronted Jabalera about it, stating he caught the defendant in several lies before Jabalera walked away.

An employee told Burson he saw a white passenger car at the storage lot on Jan. 31, which was unusual as employees typically drive tow or work trucks to the storage lot.

The vehicle was later found parked at Jabalera's residence.

Burson had a second confrontation with Jabalera, where the defendant allegedly pulled out a folding box cutter knife but did not directly threaten anyone with it.

The owner told the deputy Jabalera was then fired.

Several employees and Burson looked at every vehicle in the storage lot and found 150 vehicles missing catalytic converters.

A catalytic converter sold to a recycler could be worth $150 each, for a total of $22,500, according to court documents.

Jabalera has a pending case, including a felony count of possession of a controlled substance.

The defendant has felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance and burglary, according to court records.

He was released on his own recognizance on Feb. 3 from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

The defendant's preliminary hearing set for Feb. 13 in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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