San Bernardino

Catalytic Converter Theft is Happening So Often, Victims Forced to Wait Weeks for Replacement

The thieves are so bold, they are now targeting vehicles in daylight and in crowded parking lots.

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Catalytic converter thefts are happening so often in Southern California that victims are now waiting weeks for a replacement before they can drive their car again, according to auto repair shops.

The thieves are so bold, they are now targeting vehicles in daylight and in crowded parking lots instead of under the cover of darkness.

Danny and his family were about to be victims of a catalytic theft, but we are not revealing Danny's last name for safety reasons.

"There were four guys, two of them were underneath cutting and one guy was on the lookout, and one guy driving," Danny said.

He's talking about the four men who tried to steal his teenage son's catalytic converter last Friday.

His son's Toyota Sequoia was parked near an In-N-Out in San Bernardino in broad daylight when a witness heard the sound of a saw cutting metal, so he took pictures and confronted the men. Danny says one had a bat.

"The guy with the bat motioned to him and told him to get out of here," he said.

Fortunately, the thieves didn't get away with the catalytic converter, but many others have had great success in stealing them and have been selling them for hundreds of dollars.

Warren Valenson is the manager for Top Dawg Auto Repair in San Bernardino. He says catalytic converter thefts are happening so often that victims are having to wait days and even weeks to get a replacement, and they are not cheap. They can cost up to $3,000.

“There's so many of them stolen. I went out and bought a welder and taught myself to weld, so I can do them in-house without having to send them out because driving without an exhaust system is really dangerous," Valenson said.

Thieves don't take the pandemic off, targeting something on cars. Randy Mac reported on NBC4 News on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.

Valenson says newer cars are big targets, including Prius’ and also high profile vehicles because they are easy to get underneath.

"They'll steal them in front of a bank, they'll steal them at a grocery store… your driveway," he added.

Surveillance video was provided by Danny's coworker in Chino Hills about another close encounter.

He was able to scare away the thieves who were trying to take his catalytic converter last fall.

Danny says another coworker was also recently targeted as well, which is why he's hoping others will do their part if they witness a crime happening.

"Take pictures. Try to get the license plate numbers, anything you can get," Danny added.

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