Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department Operations Valley Bureau completed a six month investigation regarding the ongoing thefts of catalytic converters throughout the San Fernando Valley and Southern California region.
Detectives learned that victims would start their vehicles and then notice loud sounds originating from underneath their vehicles. After inspecting the vehicles, the victims found that their catalytic converter had been cut from the exhaust system. Victims found that the average cost to replace and repair the exhaust system was approximately $1,700.00.
Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves because they contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and/or palladium. Once the metals are extracted by metal recovery recycling businesses, they can be sold in the open market at market prices.
The Catalytic Converter Task Force (CCTF) was formed to identify, target and dismantle the underground demand and illicit market for stolen catalytic converters. During the investigation, several theft crews were identified, arrested and charged with felony grand theft. The CCTF also identified various fencing locations throughout the United States, including a business in the San Fernando Valley. The investigation revealed that crews (suspects) cut the catalytic converters off the victim’s vehicles and transported the stolen property to the location, which appeared to operate as a legitimate business. The catalytic converters were then sold for $150-$200 each. The suspects would transport the catalytic converters in bulk to smelting companies where the precious metals were extracted. Several companies have been identified as having purchased catalytic converters from the San Fernando Valley business.
Multiple search and arrest warrants were served today throughout the Southern California Region, with regards to the ongoing criminal investigation. The task force worked closely with the Los Angeles County District Attorney Office, Los Angeles City Attorney Environmental Crimes Section, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), State of California Franchise Tax Board (SFTB), State of California Employment Development Department (EDD), National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Los Angeles Taskforce for Regional Auto theft Prevention (TRAP), and Farmers Insurance Company.
Anyone with information regarding this crime series is urged to contact Detective Adrienne Hamilton, Devonshire Area Auto Detectives, at (818) 832-0974. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPD Online.org, click on “web tips” and follow the prompts.