LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - Catalytic converter thefts are now hitting taxpayer's wallets. Thieves are stealing them off City of Los Angeles vehicles.
Investigative reporter David Goldstein says it seems the city can't stop it.
Despite increased security, we've learned thieves have stolen pricey catalytic converters off more than 100 city vehicles. And we found it's happening while they're locked up inside the city yard.
The general services fleet yard in Boyle Heights houses hundreds of la city vehicles. And cbs2 news has learned they've been targeted by thieves---sawing off and stealing catalytic converters.
In one yard, the city admits 68 vehicles have had catalytic converters stolen over the past year. Citywide they say the number is 117 city vehicles. Even though our sources say there are many more.
The cost: well over $100,000 in taxpayer money for repairs.
It's happening to cars all around town. No matter who owns them. Because the precious metals inside the converters - which are used to reduce emissions - are worth a lot of money. Thieves can get hundreds of dollars for each one.
City officials claim they're working with LAPD to increase security in the Boyle Heights yard, but emails we obtained show that may not be the case.
One mechanic writing "there are still no measures in place to prevent the theft", going on to say, "I have to keep these units in the shop after the converters are replaced so that they are not stolen again".
And while the city claims 68 thefts in Boyle Heights, one email says "it appears that there have now been 150 catalytic converters stolen".
Political watchdog Jack Humphreville says the city seemingly isn't doing enough to protect taxpayer's money.
"Unfortunately, yes it's a dereliction of duty," he said. "Gross negligence from my perspective. If you were running a private business and had a yard like that you'd make sure it was protected."
But the city told us they've repaired the fence, met with LAPD, increased lighting - even hired a private security firm to patrol after hours.
They admit workers now spend hours just shuffling vehicles in and out of an enclosed shop at the beginning and end of the day just to try and keep the vehicles locked up and safe. But seemingly it's not working.
"You would think if it's in a city yard they would have some measure of security so people can't break in there and saw these stupid things off. That's ridiculous," Humphreville said.
The city says they're continuing to look for ways to prevent the thefts, and are now looking at the cost of installing motion detectors all around the yard.
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