A thief was killed when the Toyota Prius he was under while trying to saw off a catalytic converter fell on him in a parking lot of a business in Anaheim early Wednesday, police said.
An employee on his way into work discovered the body at 6:19 a.m. in the 1600 block of Placentia Avenue, police said.
Catalytic converter thefts are skyrocketing across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and as the value of the precious metals inside them has increased, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Recyclers will pay up to $250 per catalytic converter, the agency said.
The thefts increased more than tenfold, going from 1,298 in 2018 to 14,433 in 2020, according to a report by NICB.
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"As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices," the NICB said in a statement. "There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals."
Since last month, 18 states have begun considering potential legislative actions to try to combat the problem.