Over the course of one week, five catalytic converters were stolen from cars in South Pasadena and the mayor of the town wants it stopped.
“It’s getting out of hand, and it just can’t continue here and everywhere,” said Michael Cacciotti, who sits in the city’s mayoral seat. “It’s out of control.”
He would like to see statewide legislative action in place, which would regulate the resale of used catalytic converters – containing high paying precious metals – to scrap dealers and slow the rising theft rate.
Attached to the undercarriage of most cars, trucks and vans, the converters are sawed off in one to two minutes by thieves, whisked away and later turned into large amounts of cash.
The mayor is calling on lawmakers to require recyclers to “not buy them from just anyone off the street,” he said. “There has to be proper record keeping, a paper trail from a commercial source, other than some criminal enterprise in order to prevent this from happening.”
Victims like Cacciotti, whose converter was stolen from his 2001 Prius last spring, recognize that many low-level offenders of a property crime who are arrested, are soon back on the street following a judges ruling as a result of the coronavirus, lack of jail space or other issues.
In a motion, seconded by Councilmember Diana Mahmud, as part of Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Cacciotti has asked the city’s Public Safety Commission to address the topic at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, February 14.
Ultimately, the mayor would like the city to send letters to State Senator Anthony Portantino and State Assemblymember Chris Holden seeking statewide action to minimize crimes of this nature. Cacciotti would also like to see funds allocated for statewide units to make specialized investigation efforts, recognizing that the local police are already saturated and busy patrolling communities.
“Those stealing the catalytic converters are selling them to recyclers for anywhere from a few hundreds dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the price of the precious metals. Recyclers need to document who they bought the catalytic converters from, the date it was received, the person’s name etc. The recyclers must also indicate what they are going to do with them. While it’s a major concern in our own city, it has become a problem in the state and throughout the nation.”
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports the number of exhaust emission control devices reported in claims to insurance companies has climbed from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 in 2020.
Cacciotti said some residents have been hit multiple times with the same crime – not once, twice but three times. “We need to take action now,” he said, “and stop this criminal element. Most of the people we’ve arrested, the few times we’ve caught, are from out of state, like Texas, Tennessee. Most are from outside the county, San Bernardino, Riverside. They just come into our cities and take catalytic converters at will.”