SILVER LAKE — It takes a little more than a minute to make the two cuts to remove a catalytic converter and drive away with the critical car part filled with precious metals.
In Silver Lake and neighboring areas, some residents are being hit by catalytic converter thefts in the middle of the night. The thefts occur about once a week, according to police. Last month, five catalytic converters were stolen in a single night in the Silver Lake area, and two men were arrested in the act, according LAPD Detective John Hovhanessian with the Northeast Division. One of the suspects was sent to prison, and the other man is still waiting to be sentenced.
Silver Lake resident James Stathas said a catalytic converter was stolen from his Honda Element several weeks ago. He had parked the car on the street overnight, and when he turned it on in the morning, it sounded like a jet engine.
For some residents, the total cost of repairs for the thefts varies from about $1,200 to $1,600. Stathas said he plans to replace the part using his insurance.
“But if I replace it tomorrow and put (my car) back on the street, there’s no guarantee they won’t steal it again,” he said. “If I can’t park my car in the garage, I’m just a sitting duck like everyone else here is.”
Because the theft is a recurring crime, some residents, including Stathas, plan to purchase catalytic converter protectors – or “cat clamps” – online or have makeshift contraptions built for them in shops. The protectors act like a metal cage around the catalytic converters to discourage others from trying to steal them.
LAPD Detective John Hovhanessian recommended that residents park their cars in garages or in well-lit areas, have alarms on their cars and buy contraptions to protect their catalytic converters.
Amanda Schallert is a fourth-year UCLA student and the news editor at the Daily Bruin.