(WatchDogReport.org) – With an 8-4 decision, the Los Angeles City Council made it illegal to be in possession of a catalytic converter without the proper paperwork or other evidence of legal ownership.
It would appear that no vehicle is safe from catalytic converter thieves since they have targeted everything from school buses to police cars and even the legendary Wienermobile. A relatively minor, infrequent crime has become a nationwide criminal organization capable of raking in half a billion dollars in just three years.
What caused this explosion in this type of theft?
Palladium, a rare metal that has become one of the most precious minerals in the world, is an essential component of catalytic converters. The price of palladium per ounce jumped from around $600 in early 2016 to over $2,000 in early 2019, surpassing the value of gold for the first time in nearly two decades. The number of stolen catalytic converters in the United States skyrocketed over the subsequent three years.
Theft of catalytic converters is a nationwide problem, especially for owners of older Prius models (which have the most palladium). A thief can crawl under a car and hack it off in less than a minute. The waiting time for replacement Prius vehicles in Los Angeles might exceed nine months.
Amid the frenzied thievery, Democratic L.A. Councilwoman Nithya Raman laid all the blame, not on the criminals, but on car manufacturers- specifically Toyota. Like a woman who is blamed for being assaulted because she’s not wearing a chastity belt, Raman believes the manufacturers are responsible for making the converters “too easy to steal.”
Apprehending criminals was once known as “police work” but is now seen as “criminalizing certain communities.” Fellow councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez said that the move to criminalize possession of a catalytic converter could negatively influence Latinx and Black communities and would not make the city safer.
Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson suggested that people who value their vehicles build cages around them or install other anti-theft measures.
Raman’s successful run for the council in 2020 included her call to defund the police and transform them into a much smaller specialized force.
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