Dozens of catalytic converters stolen from city owned vehicles, LA seeks plan to address theft

Citing the theft of catalytic converters from 39 city-owned vehicles over Christmas weekend, the Los Angeles City Council passed a motion Wednesday aimed at developing a plan for reducing theft of city property.

The 39 stolen catalytic converters were estimated to cost a total of $74,000, the motion stated. In March 2021, the city also lost dozens of catalytic converters following a break-in at a city yard in Lincoln Heights, where catalytic converters were stolen from 68 vehicles.

"The theft of catalytic converters in particular is widespread nationwide, and has gotten worse because of recent dramatic increases in the salvage value of their components," the motion stated, adding that it poses "significant" risk to taxpayers.

The motion, which was introduced by Councilman Paul Krekorian and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, instructs the chief legislative analyst to work with the Board of Public Works, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Department of General Services and other relevant departments on a report within 30 days into thefts that have occurred at city facilities over the last two years that have resulted in significant losses or damage to city assets. The report will specifically look into the risk of catalytic converter theft from city vehicles and what security measures are in place at locations where thefts occurred.

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The motion also seeks recommendations on appropriate and cost-efficient measures to reduce the city's asset losses and damage and what the necessary budget and staffing would be to implement the measures.

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The Board of Public Works and the LAPD will also report on potential methods to apprehend suspects who steal or buy the stolen items, including using GPS tracking systems on catalytic converters.

Catalytic converters are devices under vehicles that convert toxic gasses and pollutants into less-toxic pollutants. They have become increased targets for theft because the costs of platinum, palladium and rhodium -- which are used for catalytic converters -- have risen in recent years.

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