On Sept. 4, 2022, at about 8:20 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Luffenholtz Beach, near Trinidad, for the report of an attempted theft of a catalytic converter.
The male victim told deputies that he was on the beach when he heard the sound of a power tool coming from the beach parking area. When he went to check on his vehicle, the victim observed a male suspect attempting to remove the catalytic converter from the victim’s vehicle. Upon seeing the victim, the suspect fled. The victim was able to provide deputies with a description of the suspect and an associated vehicle.
Deputies located the vehicle traveling in the area of Edwards and Trinity Streets, and conducted a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle, 26-year-old Michael Justin Launius was detained without incident. During their investigation, deputies confirmed Launius to be the suspect of the attempted theft.
Launius was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of attempted grand theft (PC 664/487(a)), tampering with an automobile (VC 10852) and vandalism (PC 594(b)(2)(A)).
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has seen an 83% increase in catalytic converter theft reports received this year as compared to 2021. Like other vehicle burglaries, catalytic converter theft is a crime of opportunity that can occur quickly, leaving little evidence behind. Residents are encouraged to take proactive steps to protect your vehicle from theft, including:
- Park your vehicle in a well-lit area. If possible, try to park where you can keep your vehicle in view.
- At home, trim back trees and bushes that block the view of your vehicle from your house. Consider installing motion sensor security lights and surveillance cameras.
- Always lock your vehicle and consider installing a more sensitive car alarm system.
- Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device.
- Ensure your car insurance covers catalytic converter theft.
- Call local law enforcement and your insurer should you become the victim of a catalytic converter theft.
Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.
Receive HCSO news straight to your phone or email. Subscribe to news alerts at: humboldtsheriff.org/subscribe.
Michael Justin Launius Booking Photo | Humboldt County Correctional Facility