SoCal catalytic converter theft ring bust

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by pasadena_commut, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Active Member

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    For recent cat theft victims in Southern California check this out:

    Deputies Recover Stolen Catalytic Converters and Arrest 19 People – NBC Los Angeles

    which includes this text: Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station at 661-255-1121. I'm going to give them a call now...

    They transferred me to a line, probably the detective, but it was an answering machine. I left my name, phone number, the date, time range, location of theft and the VIN of the car. We will see if they call back. If by some miracle they do have the cat from my car I suppose it belongs to the insurance company now, since they paid to replace it.
     
    #1 pasadena_commut, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
  2. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    how would they know if it belonged to your car? Did you have it marked with VIN?
     
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  3. qmanqman

    qmanqman Member

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    Ever watch CSI? DNA matching . . . if he was fortunate enough to burn himself on the cat that one time he replaced the O2 sensor.

    These boys are goin down hard.
     
  4. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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  5. Socal_Prius

    Socal_Prius Junior Member

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    Wow, this was completely organized crime; 250 at $1300+ is serious money; what bothers me s that represents a highly likelihood of cars that will no longer be allowed to be driven in CA unless they buy an OEM unit which likely is as much as the car's value, or risk being scrapped or bought back from insurance and then sent out of state. And Toyota is having a hard time keeping up with demand for the CAT units in stock given the recent article!

    Still, I'm glad the guys in Santa Barbara are out here trying to keep these cars alive, I'm going to forward them this article as I'm sure they will want to know what was causing an influx in recent demand as we chatted about the recent string of cat thefts. Luckily ours wasn't stolen, and we got to sell it to help us recover some of the repair expense.

    Edit: They're valuing the 250 units at $750k, which means they're at being marked at 3k per unit!
     
    #5 Socal_Prius, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  6. Sanchan

    Sanchan Junior Member

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    My other car(Honda Element) also have been a target for cat theft frequently....I know the guy got his cat stolen twice! The state should do something to help victims instead of punishing them more by requiring OEM cat....
     
  7. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Active Member

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    I don't know if it was or wasn't. Some car parts are marked like that, some are not, and who knows what the prior owner might have done. In any case I figured they must have a field for it in whatever database they are putting together, so it was provided.

    Regarding the $750K, they probably used that as an estimate of the total property damage done, since $3K is roughly what it costs to replace one of these in CA. Certainly the used cats were not worth that much had the legal owners sold them, but that wasn't what happened.
     
  8. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Active Member

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    Ha Ha.

    Don't know if anybody cares enough to do the work, but there are other means of matching the cats to the car. In my case I sent the police some pretty high resolution pictures of the cut pipe, so in theory if they did have the matching cat they could show by the cut geometry and any scratches running along the pipe that it was from my car. That would be a lot like matching a bullet to a gun. That said, I no longer have that pipe, since it was replaced along with the cat.

    I suspect that they will not need to go to those lengths to convince a jury that these were all stolen. What legal source is there for 250 used but still fully functioning catalytic converters? If they bought them from a junk yard that wrecker would have a record of the sale. They certainly didn't import them - if they did there should once again be a record. Finally, given the size of the bust, one suspects the cops surveilled them for a while and probably have footage of the thieves at work.
     
  9. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    I.e. it was quite unlikely to be marked. If you bought this car before the seller would have heard much news of Prius cat theft, up that to 'very highly unlikely'.
     
  10. Socal_Prius

    Socal_Prius Junior Member

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    You give the police way too much credit, they are not going to bother doing any of that even if they had the resources dedicated to that simply because they have far more profitable things to focus on, because policing is a business at the end of the day (hence things like civil asset forfeiture, whic is just state sanctioned theft).

    You're a victim of theft and, clearly amongst many in CA, and you have to absorb the cost/loss as it's technically illegal via CARB standards for you to install what is now probably evidence and soon deemed contraband.

    As for your other points, it's a federal crime to even successfully solicit a junk yard (on both sides) let alone purchase a used catalytic converter in California, which is where they were caught. This seems like a coordinated operation from organized crime which is whyt we saw the masive increase in theft these last couple of months, how far this goes is anyone's guess but at this point I'm not ruling anything out.

    But, what that said anyone want to short the Rhohdium market short term? GME was a good investment tip, once these are sold this may also make the market drop if the auction it off to smelters.
     
    #10 Socal_Prius, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
  11. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    You think 250 catalytic converters will make the market drop?
    Most real salvage yards supply that many every week or two.
     
  12. Georgina Rudkus

    Georgina Rudkus Senior Member

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    Paint and engrave with VHT orange or other color paint.

    vht painted side view.JPG
     
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  13. Socal_Prius

    Socal_Prius Junior Member

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    No, I just think this is just the first of a wave of arrests, to be honest. There is no way some of those guys aren't going to flip (that's racketeering and 250 charges of grand larceny on top CARB violations, they're all probably facing Life sentences without probation) and become CI and snitch on where the others are happening. As we've seen this is an international thing, it's impossible to say it's all from a single source but I think if and when all of them get pinched and they're dumped on the market it could make the market dip.

    Sidenote: CA deems anything above $950 grand larceny,with 12-18 months for each count.

    When it comes to CA police and CARB they don't mess about, in SoCal it was common for CHP to have cops force people to pop their hoods at meetups or events in order to look for aftermarket turbo manifolds, wastegates/dump pipes/inter coolers, exhausts or blow off valves on cars and impounded them on the spot.

    I personally thought that was targeted discrimination and a waste of time since t still amounts to taxable economic activity and gainful employment in the auto industry, but if nothing else it should put an effective zero tolerance policy on these thefts.
     
    #13 Socal_Prius, Mar 14, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
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