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UPDATE: Man escapes after hit-and-run crash, catalytic converter theft attempt

Posted: February 11, 2014 2:49 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2014 6:39 p.m.

A thief trying to steal a catalytic converter in Canyon Country on Tuesday was surprised by the car’s owner and failed to grab the device, then got into a hit-and-run collision trying to flee the scene, sheriff’s officials said.

The man managed to make good his escape, and Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputies were searching Tuesday night for a blue 2004 Chevrolet Silverado. The suspect was described as a white man between 17 and 24 years old, about 6 feet tall and weighing 160 pounds, wearing a black baseball hat and black T-shirt with white lettering.

Deputies were sent to the scene of the crash at Soledad Canyon Road and Honby Avenue about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday and learned of the theft attempt, Lt. Mark Hershey said.

The thief snipped the catalytic converter from a car but took off when the car’s owner spotted him. The car owner recovered the severed equipment, a sheriff’s deputy said.

The Silverado was last seen traveling north on Honby.

A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device. It’s located in front of the vehicle’s muffler and converts toxic pollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants.

Law enforcement officials have seen a rash of catalytic converter thefts recently. The devices, which are coveted for the valuable metals they contain, sell for $40 to $200 each.

On Sunday, officers at the West Valley station of the Los Angeles Police Department issued an advisory warning car owners about catalytic converter thefts.

“Thieves have been removing victims’ catalytic converters from their vehicles,” they said in their advisory.

There are three types of metals that help the catalytic converter remove toxins from vehicles’ emissions: platinum, palladium and rhodium. It’s the tiny amount of these expensive metals inside catalytic converters that makes them valuable.

A series of catalytic converter thefts occurred in the Santa Clarita Valley during the summer of 2011.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt




EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 11, 2014 2:57 p.m.

Mostly stolen from high-profile vehicles because it's way easier to get underneath and do their dirty work quickly. If you own an SUV or pickup truck, be extra vigilant.

UsualSuspect: Posted: February 11, 2014 4:26 p.m.

I wonder if they went to the recyclers and asked who has recently started recycling a large number of them? I am curious how they determined it to be a 2004? The Chev trucks produced from 2002 through mid 2007 all look the same, and the parts are all the same.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 11, 2014 4:43 p.m.

UsualSuspect: You bring up a great point. How come there are never stings at these recycling places? They know these "cats" are stolen and they buy them anyway. Start busting some of these recyclers, they are acting as "fences" for stolen property.

Rocketeer: Posted: February 11, 2014 5:56 p.m.

They don't take these to the recycler, unscrupulous mechanics install them on cars that can't pass smog. These are junkies selling them for drug money.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 11, 2014 6:35 p.m.

I thought they were selling them for pennies on the dollar for their minute amount of platinum.

tpaul: Posted: February 12, 2014 8:50 a.m.

This story made me laugh, 2 losers in one story

Unreal: Posted: February 12, 2014 9:28 a.m.

tpaul: Only one loser. I think you need to read it again.

bobforte: Posted: February 12, 2014 1:27 p.m.

Rocketeer, you are 100% correct. They are not taking them to recycling centers and they are being installed on cars to pass smog.

In addition, the articles that came out last week regarding the incidents in West Valley LAPD stated the vehicles are late 90s to early 2000s Honda Accords. Not your high profile vehicle. All they are doing is using a cordless saw/grinder, cutting them off, and fleeing.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: February 12, 2014 1:40 p.m.

According to an article on "cat" theft prevention from Nationwide insurance:

"Vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as trucks, pick-ups and SUVs, are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle to gain access to the converter. With just a few cuts of a battery-powered saw, the catalytic converter can be stolen in less than a minute."

Toyota SUVs especially because their catalytic converters are only bolted on. --edited.

stray: Posted: February 12, 2014 2:38 p.m.

I do agree with several posters here with their different opinions. They are all correct. I have "ties" to the Bureau of Automotive Repair and their "undercover agents" are very aware that corrupt mechanics and muffler shops are lining their pockets with stolen cats. I understand also that Toyota cats are really the hot ticket for theft. There was a shortage of Toyota cats there for a while because of their Sunami that seriously halted the mass production of their products.


"1990s Toyota trucks, because they contain certain precious metals, especially platinum. Weber says thieves can turn the parts in for $200. Recyclers have been known to extract thousands of dollars worth of precious metal from the converters."

bobforte: Posted: February 12, 2014 2:48 p.m.

Nice cite, Egbert, but referring to the West Valley series of crimes, it is late 90s to early 2000s Honda Accords.

stray: Posted: February 12, 2014 3:39 p.m.

"They said the vehicles most commonly targeted include the Toyota 4-Runner, Honda Element and Jeep Grand Cherokee."

tpaul: Posted: February 13, 2014 9:23 a.m.

Unreal: my bad , I thought I read the suspect got hit trying to flee and THAT driver ran...Now that would have been 2 losers.

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