ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) — At least 30 catalytic converter thefts have been reported so far this month in Alameda. The police department says in several cases the thieves pulled guns on or even opened fire on good Samaritans trying to intervene.
Mechanic Ky Truong is all too familiar with the anger and inconvenience associated with being stripped of a catalytic converter. He owns Alameda Auto Body Services in Alameda.
Twice this year, thieves attempted to steal the exhaust emission control device from two of his cars directly in front of his business, getting away with one of them.
“Even we put the chain,” Truong said. “One of my it’s; they stole his Prius three times. Three times.”
A neighbor called police during the second attempt on Truong’s truck, and the suspect ran off. But Alameda police are cautioning against getting involved in an active theft.
Since March 1, police say there have been at least 30 catalytic converters reported stolen on the island. In several cases, thieves pulled guns on or opened fire on people who tried to get involved. Truong says the device is not worth a life.
But he is frustrated by the consistent average of about a half dozen cars needing the part driven to his shop each month.
“This is not good for the business,” Truong said. “This one doesn’t make much money on this — on the labor, very little. But it’s sad when it gets into this happen. The customer don’t have car to drive and irritate everybody.”
Supervisor Marcus Mai says despite new state laws restricting the sales of catalytic converters to authorized dealers the black market is keeping thieves in business.
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His shop can only use parts from the original manufacturer, but those parts sometimes take up to a year to come in and desperate customers look elsewhere.
“And, that aftermarket part could be sold by the thieves and we don’t know. And, that just right there is a cycle. You know, the cycle piece from stealing it, selling it and doing it again over and over and over again. It just repeats itself,” said Mai.
From mid-February through mid-March the police department says 77 catalytic converter thefts have been reported, mostly happening from nine at night through six in the morning.
Toyota Priuses and Tundras, like Truong’s, are the most targeted.