LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — CBS Los Angeles has obtained nearly 100 videos showing people breaking in and stealing catalytic converters and other items from L.A. city trucks parked in a city yard in Boyle Heights.
The cameras, set up by an employee, show thieves coming in through holes in the fence carrying saws and bolt cutters, only to return 40 minutes later carrying stolen catalytic converters — worth thousands of dollars due to the precious metals inside — back through the fence.
The videos, taken between January and a few weeks ago, show some of the more brazen thieves not even wearing masks, making their faces easily recognizable. So, why haven't any of the thieves been caught?
"It's still an open an active investigation," Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Chris Mayberry said.
Mayberry said the department has copies of the videos and believe that at least three or four people are involved, but no arrests have been made.
"Just because you have images of certain individuals doesn't mean they're gonna be identified or that they've ever been detained or arrested or obtained some type of [identification] in the past," he said.
In one video, a saw can be heard in the dead of night as the thieves cut the converters from one of the trucks in the sprawling yard. A second camera then shows two men carrying converters and tools as they make their way back through the fence and leave.
And it's not just catalytic converters, but car batteries and wire spools.
In one of the videos, an alleged thief catches the camera, turns it around — showing another man — before turning it away from them.
The yard is run by the city's Department of General Services and the fence runs along an area of brush just under the 10 Freeway. The city said it has increased security at the yard and repaired the fence, but the efforts have not deterred the thieves.
"When we went out initially, we did do an environmental survey for them," Mayberry said. "We gave them our thoughts on crime prevention strategies and that's gonna be up to them."
Mayberry said the city initially followed some of the department's recommendations.
"But, when the budget crisis happened, I know some of those things were dropped off," he said.
And, after months of break-ins, police said they arrested a person trespassing on the yard. But, they said, it did not appear that he was any of the people caught on the videos.
for more features.