HomeCommunity NewsSheriff’s Station Helps Battle Catalytic Converter Thefts

Sheriff’s Station Helps Battle Catalytic Converter Thefts

Catalytic converter thefts have been a growing problem in La Cañada Flintridge since the start of 2021, and now the pace of such crimes has increased, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station has said.
In 2021, there were 23 catalytic converter thefts in LCF, and in 2022 there were 24. According to Sgt. Edward Retamoza of the Crescenta Valley station, there have been 21 catalytic converter thefts in LCF just since the start of this year.
Hondas have been the targets of the most thefts, with Toyotas next. The converters, which help clean vehicles’ exhaust, are coveted by criminals because of the valuable metals the devices contain.
LCF Senior Management Analyst Christina Nguyen and sheriff’s Special Assignment Deputy Ashween Nand recently briefed the LCF Public Safety Commission about Senate Bill 55, a state proposal aimed at combating the thefts.

A catalytic converter etched with a vehicle identification number was on display.

“The challenging part of catalytic converter thefts is [that] there is a lack of serial numbers or other identifying markers to identify each unit,” said Nguyen.
In January, Assembly Bill 1740 and Senate Bill 1087 took effect.
“These new measures are designed to curb the rise in stolen catalytic converters by defining who may sell and purchase catalytic converters, ensuring that the sellers are the verifiable owners of the vehicles’ parts, and requiring a traceable payment method for transactions,” said Nguyen.
The measures also include fines and penalties for those convicted of knowingly and willfully violating these requirements.
More recently, state Sen. Tom Umberg of Orange County introduced SB 55, which would require a motor vehicle dealer or retailer to have the catalytic converter engraved or etched with the vehicle identification number before a new or used truck or car is sold, according to Nguyen.

Mayor Keith Eich and Sheriff’s Deputy Ashween Nand pose for a photo with a catalytic converter and a JL marking device. – Photos by Mia Alva / Outlook Valley Sun

Umberg’s office contacted LCF officials to seek support for the bill. It was drafted to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to track stolen catalytic converters and identify individuals who might possess stolen devices.
A motion to support Umberg’s proposal was passed by the Public Safety Commission. The commission’s recommendation to support the bill will be taken to the City Council.
Nguyen listed steps that vehicle owners can take to prevent catalytic theft.

  1. Park vehicles in a secure garage.
  2. Park in a well-lighted area.
  3. Have the converter’s bolts welded shut.
  4. Mark the converter with an identifying number such as the VIN or license plate number.
    The city and sheriff’s station also hosted two catalytic converter etching events last year to help vehicle owners.
    On Saturday, the third catalytic converter event in partnership with the sheriff’s station took place, according to Nguyen. The Public Safety Commission in 2022 recommended holding the events. At the event last weekend, the converters of 133 vehicles were etched during five hours at La Cañada High School.
    “This is the most we have ever done at our station,” said Nand.
    The process of etching a vehicle took less than three minutes and was open to anyone. They had 18 personnel, who included sheriff’s deputies, detectives and station volunteers who came out on their day off to make the event.
    At the events, residents can have their vehicle’s catalytic converter etched with their VIN for free. The etching will act both as a theft deterrent and provide valuable information should it be stolen and later recovered by law enforcement personnel during subsequent investigations.

First published in the March 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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