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Catalytic converter thief fatally run over by vehicle he was under, authorities say

Catalytic converter thief fatally run over in Palmdale
Catalytic converter thief fatally run over in Palmdale 01:57

A woman accidentally ran over a man suspected of trying to steal her truck's catalytic converter in the Los Angeles suburb of Palmdale Tuesday evening, CBS Los Angeles reports. The suspect later died.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrived at a retail parking lot at 5:56 p.m. Tuesday.

A "lifted" 4x4 Ford Excursion truck was partially backed out of a parking space, deputies said. An unidentified man was underneath the vehicle.

Deputies said a woman had fallen asleep in the truck, which was parked, when she heard sawing underneath. She turned on the vehicle, backed out of the space and felt a bump.

The woman stopped and called 911 for medical assistance for the man.

He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"The victim turned her vehicle on, put it in reverse, heard a thump and stopped the vehicle, and then saw that there was a suspect underneath the car that had been run over by her car," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Hugo Reynaga.

Deputies said three other suspects -- a man and two women -- in a car parked next to the truck were taken into custody.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. offers tips for owners of trucks or SUVs -- "especially lifted ones need to be more cautious because it's easier for criminals to get underneath them":

  • When you are able to, park in well-lit areas and close to your home.
  • Try to park your car inside and keep the garage door shut.
  • Have the catalytic converter welded to your car's frame, which may make it harder to steal.
  • Consider engraving or etching your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter
  • Consider engraving or etching your vehicle license plate number on the catalytic converter
  • Calibrate your car's alarm to set off when it detects vibration.

In recent years, the number of catalytic converter thefts has shot up by more than 1,200 percent, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. They're sought for the precious metals thley're made with.

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