Los Angeles: Detectives at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division are cautioning the public to be aware of catalytic converter thefts in the Wilshire vicinity.
Since January 1, 2014, the Wilshire Division has experienced 34 thefts from vehicles involving catalytic converters. The majority of them have occurred south of Wilshire Boulevard, mostly in the area west of Rimpau Boulevard to Fairfax Avenue and south of Wilshire Boulevard to Venice Boulevard. Seven have occurred north of Beverly Boulevard.
Catalytic converters were introduced in 1975 to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s stricter exhaust emission regulations. Early models were known as “two-way” converters, which were replaced in 1981 by “three-way” models. However, both types of converters are still in use.
Because of the converters’ external location and use of precious metals such as platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold, which have been steadily rising in value and demand, catalytic converters are a target for thieves. The problem is especially common among late-model trucks and SUVs because of their high ground clearance and easily removed bolt-on attachment. Welded-in converters are also at risk of theft. They can be easily cut off, and their removal can be dangerous as well as very damaging to other vehicle components. Replacement of a catalytic converter can cost well over $1,000.
The primary vehicles targeted for the thefts have been Honda Elements and Toyota trucks or SUVs. The thefts usually occur between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. As preventive measures, detectives advise residents to park their vehicles off the street in garages, carports and driveways whenever possible and to ensure there is ample lighting. Additional steps include installing/using vehicle burglar alarms and catalytic converter locking devices that can be installed by a mechanic.
Questions and requests for interviews, including Spanish-language interviews, may be directed to Wilshire Area Autos Coordinator Detective Carmine Sasso at 213-473-0556.