Warning of notorious increase in car theft in Los Angeles

As a consequence of the pandemic, car thefts skyrocketed in California and Los Angeles. (Archive / The Opinion)

Photo: File / La Opinion

Starting in 2020, when the covid-19 pandemic broke out and many cars remained parked for a long time on the streets, vehicle theft skyrocketed and continues to rise.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Sheriff’s Department, in 2020, 34,003 motor vehicles were stolen compared to 39,894 in 2021.

In Los Angeles County, motor vehicle thefts hit their highest point in 10 years in 2020.

Some vehicles are stolen in parts, or to be used in the commission of crimes, and are usually recovered between 3 and 5 after the theft.

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón warns about car theft. (Araceli Martínez / La Opinion)

Los Angeles County Attorney George Gascon issued a public service announcement warning Los Angeles residents to remain vigilant in the face of a significant increase in auto theft in the county.

“Carjacking is a costly crime that impacts victims’ ability to get to work and school,” he said.

He added that his office works with its law enforcement partners to hold carjackers accountable.

“Help us prevent these crimes in our community by taking a few small steps.”

Recommendations to avoid car theft:

  • Always lock your car
  • Do not leave the extra key inside the vehicle
  • Park in a well-lit area
  • Get an anti-theft device for your vehicle
Dozens of catalytic converters were seized in Riverside County.
Theft of catalytic converters has skyrocketed along with car theft. (Hamet Police Department)

catalytic converters

At the same time that car theft has increased during the pandemic, the theft of catalytic converters has also increased throughout the country, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

California is among the five states with the most thefts of catalytic converters, according to this agency.

Catalytic converters are made from highly valuable metals like platinum and can be worth up to $1200.

La Cañada Flintridge Senator Anthony J. Portantino joined Orange Senator Tom Umberg in announcing SB 986 that combats catalytic converter theft by requiring dealers to apply a vehicle identification number (VIN). ) to the catalyst of each vehicle put up for sale.

Converter theft is on the rise and serious. It is a crime that affects a growing number of families throughout the state.”said Senator Portantino.

“SB 986 offers a simple, common sense solution to eliminate the legal challenges to prosecuting converter theft.”

He considered that this measure will result in a reduction in theft of used converters, which is good news for victims and law enforcement agencies.

A printed serial number related to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) identifies most vehicle parts sold in the United States, allowing law enforcement agencies to establish stolen parts, even if the stolen vehicle has not already been dismantled.

In California, they intend to legislate against the theft of catalytic converters. (Getty Images)

However, that serial number identification process is not currently applied for converters. As a result, police are unable to arrest or prosecute individuals in possession of dozens or hundreds of suspected converters.

Applying a VIN to a catalytic converter is usually done by etching, a process that is easy and inexpensive.

“For some reason, auto parts thieves are perceived as fools. However, the reality is that catalytic converter theft can be very lucrative,” said Senator Umberg.

Therefore, he argued that this bill is an important step forward in protecting California consumers by helping law enforcement agencies eliminate auto parts and vehicle theft.

SB 986 will require auto dealers to mark the catalytic converters on vehicles for sale.

It will also force recyclers who buy used auto parts to record a unique identification number for each converter.

According to SB 986, the recycler will be exempt from this obligation, if the used catalytic converter was bought or sold under a written agreement described in detail.

“Catalytic converters have become a favorite target for theft because they contain expensive metals that are not traceable, and are easy to sell,” said prosecutor Gascon.

He noted that this bill will give police important tools to reduce property crime and save consumers money and the hassle of replacing stolen parts.