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Drivers get ID numbers on catalytic converters for free by LA law enforcement agencies

Drivers get ID numbers on catalytic converters for free by LA law enforcement agencies 03:36

People who wanted their vehicle identification numbers etched onto their catalytic converters as a preventative measure against theft got the service done for free in Silver Lake Wednesday.

The event ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Silver Lake Reservoir, 1863 Silver Lake Blvd., north of the dog park.

Crystal Washington couldn't hold back tears after her catalytic converter was stolen. She had been parked in front of clothing store in Carson on Monday.

"This is my first car," she told CBSLA Wednesday. "First car I ever paid off.  First car that help me establish credit.  Yeah, I am attached to the car." 

The event was hosted by the Los Angeles Police Department's Northeast Auto Detectives and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Taskforce for Regional Auto Theft Prevention.

Catalytic converters are devices under vehicles that convert toxic gasses and pollutants into less-toxic pollutants. They have become increased targets for theft because the costs of platinum, palladium and rhodium -- which are used for catalytic converters -- have risen in recent years.

In February, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón called on state legislators to approve a measure requiring auto dealers to engrave vehicle identification numbers on catalytic converters. That measure, Senate Bill 986, was approved by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on Monday, which Gascón celebrated as "the first step toward protecting our community members from catalytic converter theft."

According to Moore, 20% of thefts from vehicles in Los Angeles involve catalytic converters.

"I've got just under 200 cases of theft since January," said Detective Michael Venture of LAPD. 

The devices have also been stolen from city-owned vehicles, including 39 over Christmas weekend, costing taxpayers about $74,000. In March 2021, the city also lost dozens of catalytic converters following a break-in at a city yard in Lincoln Heights, where catalytic converters were stolen from 68 vehicles.

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