TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Police Detectives began a surveillance operation of Armando Recycling, located at 4101 E. 12th Ave, following an anonymous tip that the business was operating as an unlicensed secondary metals recycler as well as noting an increase in catalytic converter thefts in the city over the last several months.
Police say the owner was identified as 29-year-old Denis Redzic and Zijad Nuhanovic was identified as the business manager. Detectives were able to establish, through the Department of Revenue, that the owner and business were in fact acting as an unlicensed secondary metals recycler.
Pursuant to Florida State Statute 538.26, catalytic converters are a classified as restricted regulated metal material which requires proof of ownership before it can be purchased by a recycler, unless it involves certain exemptions.
On Tuesday, 02/16/2021, officers observed multiple catalytic converters being brought into the business and they conducted a salvage inspection of the business (per FSS 538.20), finding that the business was taking in possible stolen catalytic converters.
Based on this fact and the fact the business was acting without proper licensing, a search warrant was drafted and signed by a judge. During the search, a total of 1,006 catalytic converters were seized. Cellular phones, cutting tools, a forklift, a box truck, and a DVR, were also seized.
The total amount of seized property in this investigation is estimated to be in excess of $500,000 dollars.
The two defendants, Redzic and Nuhanovic, were charged with Violation of Secondary Metals Recyclers Regulations, and Operating as an Unregistered Secondary Metals Recycler – both of which are felony charges.
Detectives have noticed catalytic converters are often stolen from dimly lit areas, sometimes parking or car lots with multiple vehicles. Vehicles should always be parked in well-lit areas, with motion-sensor cameras if available.
Suspicious activity should always be reported as quickly as possible.
“Detectives are sending a strong message to those business owners who choose to operate illegally, as well as the criminals who are stealing and selling: You will be caught, and you will be charged, ” said Tampa PD in a release.