Octavio Goytia, 28, (left) and Pedro Villegas-Mendoza, 22, both of Aurora.

Two men have been arrested and charged with stealing dozens of catalytic converters from vehicles across eight counties, including Lake and McHenry, the attorney general announced.

Pedro Villegas-Mendoza, 22, and Octavio Goytia, 28, both of Aurora, were charged with two counts of theft greater than $10,000 and one count of aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Villegas-Mendoza was additionally charged with 38 counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and 38 counts of burglary.

Goytia was additionally charged with 36 counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and 36 counts of burglary.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office said Villegas-Mendoza and Goytia worked together from August 2021 through March 2022 to steal catalytic converters from vehicles in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, DeKalb, Lake, McHenry and Winnebago counties.

Villegas-Mendoza and Goytia traveled across the eight counties and in broad daylight stole the catalytic converters by jacking up vehicles and using a saw to remove the converter, the attorney general’s office said.

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The two men allegedly stole more than 35 of the catalytic converters from cars.

A catalytic converter is a large piece of metal from a vehicle’s exhaust system that filters fumes and reduces harmful car emissions.

It uses elements of platinum, palladium and rhodium metals, which can be sold for profit.

The charges were filed following a nearly two-year investigation in collaboration with several state attorneys and law enforcement agencies.

The multi-county investigation was led by detectives from the Carol Stream and Wood Dale police departments in DuPage County.

Villegas-Mendoza and Goytia are being held in the DuPage County Jail on $350,000 bonds.

“While a vehicle can still operate without a catalytic converter, removing it will release toxic gases and pollutants into the air,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said.

“These charges are the result of close collaboration by my office with multiple state’s attorneys and law enforcement agencies to investigate thefts in eight Chicagoland counties. I am committed to ensuring these individuals are held accountable and ultimately to keeping our communities and environment safe,” Raoul said.

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The Aurora and Schaumburg police departments and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office also assisted with the investigation.