Catalytic converter thieves target Silver Lake Prius owners

Thieves cut the converter from this Honda Element  | James Stathas

SILVER LAKE — The LAPD Northeast Division reports a spike in catalytic converter thefts, with the devices removed from nine Toyota Priuses  in the Silver Lake area.

The Silver Lake crimes were among the 37 car break-ins and thefts that were reported across the division between Oct. 11 to Oct. 17.  “The majority of those involved the taking of the catalytic converter,” according to a posting on the Northeast Division Facebook page.

One Silver Lake Prius owner named Chris said the converter on his eight-year-old vehicle was stolen during the past weekend while parked on the street near Effie Street and Westerly Terrace.

“I discovered the converter had been stolen Sunday afternoon when I went to start up the car,”  Chris said in an email today. “The repairs are covered by insurance, but I have to pay out a $500 deductible. It has taken a few days — I  still don’t have my car back — because the insurance adjuster needed to come and inspect the damage.”

Catalytic converters contain platinum and other precious metals, making them an attractive target for thieves. Earlier this year, the converter thieves appeared to have targeted Honda Elements, which sit high, making it easier to get underneath and saw off the converter, police have said.

Some vehicle owners have turned to installing converter protectors – or “cat clamps”  – that act like a metal cage around the catalytic converters to discourage thieves. But some owners have been told that thieves just cut right through the clamps with bolt cutters.

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  1. Prius owners? I will happily turn a blind eye.

    That being said, the 2016 Honda Accord has the catalytic converter located within the engine compartment, so you cannot access it by simply going underneath the car. A determined thief could always find a way to pop the hood, but that would make it a lot less convenient.

  2. These savages should be strung up by their unmentionables.

  3. Tony the Main Spoon

    Yup, they are at it again, this time mining the Prius. Every day is a mystery for me in the morning: Is my catalytic converter stolen or not? I installed a new alarm system that goes off with just a touch and I park my Honda Element as close to the curb as possible. Maybe the old school Neighborhood Watch meetings in the areas hit hardest should be come more vigilant.

    We need to track the thefts. They seem to hit in waves. When and what times of the early morning do they take advantage of us. I read on the ES that someone was actually caught. What became of this person? Where are the thieves exchanging these parts for monetary gain? I would like the North East P.D. to bring all of us together in a forum that address specifically combating these lowlifes! We need to move on this now!

    • I’d be freaking out if I had an Element. I almost got one, too! Good luck out there.

      • it’s nerve-wracking….every single morning I start up my Element and hope it doesn’t roar, like it did when the catalytic converter was stolen before. I’m always happy when it sounds normal!

  4. All of your catalytic converters are in those dodgy repair shops along Long Beach Ave. Used Prius’s have now hit the working to lower class consumer market. Silverlake is ripe for picking, the thieves presume not only can you afford taxes and insurance but $500 deductibles are easy come easy go for Kale munching victims.

  5. If you catch these thieves in action, don’t even bother calling the cops. My neighbor caught one of these guys jacking up another neighbor’s Prius at 3 am (the thief didn’t even both hiding the noise from the power tools). The thief saw my friend and threatened him, so my friend went inside and called the cops. The person on the phone basically said ‘what do you want us to do about it?’ and intimated that the cops had given up pursuing car theft. The cops did come out 2 hours later – great response time. And the next morning, they repeated the ‘what do you want us to do about it’ line to the car’s owner. By the way, the thief also stole the Prius’ battery. Right after that, another neighbor’s headlights were stolen. No cops. Thanks, guys – great patrol work in the neighborhood!

    • Upon first hearing the police ask “what do you want us to do about it?”, your reaction might be to assume they just don’t care that another vehicle owner had their cat converter stolen, had their car vandalized or was directly threatened when confronting a thief.
      After you have given yourself some time to think about the question and how you would answer, then you will understand that “what do you want us to do about it?” is an essential relevant question for the police to ask you.
      Its easy for anyone to pick up the phone and call the police. They are obligated to respond and eventually send out a patrol unit. But they are just wasting their time until you decide what you want.
      If you own the car with the stolen cat converter, then you can tell the police -“I want to make an official report that I can submit to my insurance company for reimbursement under my policy coverage.”
      The officers will then provide you with the phone number to call or the time and place for you to complete and file the report. There is no need for them to walk you through making the report right then and there, if they still have other calls to respond to or reports of their own which need completion.

    • The police ask “what do you want us to do about it?”
      What is your answer?
      Is it “I want them to catch the thief who jacked my car and sawed off the cat converter”?
      Then what?
      The police are just wasting their time until you decide what you want them to do and until you decide to commit yourself to do what you need to do to make it work.
      The police can’t do anything worthwhile about the specific crime which you were a victim of/and they can’t do anything about the general occurence of this type of crime in your neighborhood until you are on board with a commitment to follow through doing your part.
      The police call you at 4a.m. They want to send a patrol car to your home to pick you up. They will take you to a street corner where they have some suspects detained to see if you recognize any of them as the thief who was stealing the cat converter and who threatened you.
      Are you ready to go?
      Are you ready to go if they need you at the police station for another suspect I.D. line-up?
      If a suspect is arrested and charged, will you show up at the court at the date and time given by the prosecutor for the preliminary hearing?
      Will you be available to testify at the trial?
      When the suspect is glaring at you in the courtroom and making a face trying to send a message saying “I’m a bada-s punk gangmember and my homies are going to get you and mess you up”,
      will you not allow yourself to become intimidated and will you provide the testimony thats needed?
      Until you know how you will respond to these questions,
      what else can the police say but “what do you want us to do about it?”

      • Barry, first of all, you need to look up the definition of ‘pedantic’ in the dictionary.

        Secondly, this wasn’t me – it was a neighbor. And he had already asked for the police to come out and to begin an investigation. Remember, he was also threatened, and if the police aren’t taking that seriously, they will when someone is seriously injured or killed by one of these asshat thieves.

        And the police exist to defend the community against crime, which includes investigation and arresting suspects. These thefts are, taken together, grand theft (maybe even one theft is grand theft). If that doesn’t get the police interested in getting out of the donut shops, then good luck to everyone in the community.

  6. just happened in echo park in angelino heights. when the AAA guy was picking up my gf’s Prius, he mentioned that he towed one right down the street.

  7. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve taken 4 Prius from Mt. Washington, Cypress Park and Highland Park into my shop to replace stolen catalytic converters. All covered by insurance so far but their out of pocket deductibles have been up to $1000. The replacement cost is in excess of $2400 parts and labor not to mention that Toyota is out of stock of these assemblies nationally and have no ETA of when more will arrive.

    In order to prevent those cars which are street parked from having it happen again and realizing that the current theft deterrents probably won’t work, I’ve devised and installed a defensive barrier constructed of expanded metal, bolted and spot welded to the underside of the car that will greatly slow them down if not make them abandon the effort and move on to a less fortified target. I’m also in process of obtaining tamper resistant bolts to secure the high voltage hybrid battery. If any DIYers would like to get an explanation of the process, I’m happy to discuss it.

    • Hi Bill,
      What is the name of your shop? I’ve tried Pep boys and a muffler shop. Neither one installs any kind of theft prevention device on a cat converter.

    • Hi Bill – could you please let me know where your shop is. I had mine stolen today in Eagle Rock. Very interested in your defensive barrier!

  8. I have a Honda Element and had my cat converter stolen last year. I have a “cat-strap” on it now, but who knows if it will be effective? The BEST thing I did was reduce my deductible for theft down to $100 – it added something like $16 to my annual premium. So at least if they hit me again, I will be out $100 and not $500. There’s that.

  9. Just had our catalytic converter stolen last night in Boronson Canyon. While in the tow truck on the way to the mechanic, the driver was called by his dispatcher to head back up the street from our house for another Prius. What blows my mind is that we didn’t hear a saw being used right in front of our house! This stinks.

  10. Had my catalytic converter stolen last night. Parked on the street right under a lamp post and no sound. this sucks!

  11. I live in Mt. Washington and took a vacation. I came back to my Prius sounding like a Harley Davidson! I called 6 different muffler shops and all said that Toyota sells catalytic converters for $1700, and is backed ordered for 5 weeks. Its unfortunate, but life could be worse. Gotta be thankful for all good things I still have (health, family, job…) and stay positive!

    • I also live in Mt. Washington and this happened to me last night. Prius also sounding like a Harley!

      • They’re def going around Mt. Washington. I know a few neighbors that got theirs stolen too. Park your car in the garage or get a cat clamp. Best of luck to you!

  12. I have an extra catclamp still in unopened box that I can sell for cost. It’s 160.00. You can find it online but this saves you the wait and me the cost of shipping it back.

  13. I live in Eagle Rock and just got my Catalytic Converter stolen. I don’t have insurance coverage for that so I’m paying out of pocket. Does anyone know where these stolen coverters are resold? I may as well just go buy one from there because I can’t afford 1700 for a new one.

  14. It just happened to my girlfriend’s 2004 Prius in Silverlake right near Sunset Junction. This totally blows. Does anyone have a recommendation between getting the cat strap and cat clamp? She has to park her car on the street and it’s worrying that it could easily happen again and has happened to people multiple times. Infuriating.

  15. Just had mine stolen in the San Fernando Valley (Lake Balboa). Ugh. So frustrating to see this has been a big news story for the last year and it’s still so common.

  16. Our 2007 Prius Catalytic Converter was stolen around 3:15 am this morning with our front porch lights on (where it was closely parked). Heard a drilling sound for about 5 seconds.. car’s door closed.. thieves left right thereafter. It was very quick. Thieves MUST have perfected how to steal it. Location is Glassel Park (at the foot of Mount Washington). What a HASSLE!

  17. Both my boyfriend and I got hit during memorial day weekend by these f#ckin thieves.. We both own 2007 toyota Prius’s and they took BOTH our catalytic converters. My car was parked right in front of my apartment and his car was parked down the street around the corner. We live in Highland Park of Figueroa and St. Albans. We tried to report it to the cops over the phone but they were lazy to take our report and told us we had to come in in person to do the report. I just spent $1795 to have my hybrid battery replace on my car so this unforeseen expense is very frustrating and putting me in a financial rut. I hope someone puts a stop to these thieves asap!

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