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CBS2 Investigates: Thieves Strip Nearly 40 Catalytic Converters From City Vehicles In North Hollywood

NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) - Nearly 40 vehicles were stripped of their costly catalytic converters at a city facility in North Hollywood, and it's not the first time it's happened.

The North Hollywood yard houses hundreds of city vehicles.

A break-in over Christmas weekend turned into an unwanted present for taxpayers when 39 vehicles were stripped of their catalytic converters. The city estimates the placement cost to be around $74,000, though sources told CBSLA the total could be double that amount.

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City vehicle facility in North Hollywood. Jan. 20, 2022. CBSLA

City officials said thieves cut a hole in the back fence and were able to get into the yard, and as CBSLA has previously reported, it's not the first time this happened.

These surveillance videos obtained by CBS2 News show thieves stealing catalytic converters from a city yard in Lincoln Heights last March. At that time, 68 vehicles were targeted.

The converters are valuable because of the precious metals inside that are quickly stripped and pawned for cash, but it wasn't just catalytic converters thieves took either. They also nicked car batteries and wire spools, all paid for with taxpayer money.

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City auto yard in Lincoln Heights targeted by thieves in March 2021.

At the time, officials said they would increase security, but now thieves have hit the city again.

"They're just not doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Political Watchdog Jack Humpherville.

He also said that after the first break-in, the city should have done more to stop it.

"You think you'd have some kind of security mechanism there, with cameras, night watchman, some kind of alarm system. That's security 101," Humpherville said.

In fact, sources told CBS2 News that more than 200 catalytic converters have been stolen from city vehicles in the past year.

To try and prevent it, city officials said vehicles are moved inside when space is available. Funding has also been secured to install an alarm system at the Lincoln Heights yard and high temperature markers are being used to identify converters as city property in case they're stolen.

"If someone's going to steal them and they have a number on them, nobody one cares. They're going to be on the black market anyway," Humpherville said.

While that might be the case, city officials hope increased security will protect taxpayer money from going through fence.

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