Man trying to steal catalytic converter in California crushed to death by car

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A man suspected of trying to steal a vehicle’s catalytic converter in California died when the car fell on him, police said.

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According to Sgt. Shane Carringer of the Anaheim Police Department, the body of a man was found underneath a Toyota Prius at an auto repair lot at about 6:20 a.m. on Wednesday, KABC reported.

The man, whose name has not been released, was found dead underneath the car, the television station reported. According to Carringer, it appeared the man was trying to steal the catalytic converter when the jack he was using failed and he was crushed under the weight of the vehicle, KABC reported.

Sean Harp, who works at the complex where the incident occurred, was in his office when a “pretty frantic” person alerted him that he had found a dead man beneath the car, KTLA reported.

Harp investigated and said he saw the man’s “torso underneath the vehicle with his feet and … legs exposed,” the television station reported. “It was evident that he was crushed.”

Authorities said catalytic converter thefts have been increasing as thieves seek metals in the car parts they can sell.

”They’re filled with precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium,” David Kilbourne, who runs Foreign Carriage Service in Thousand Oaks, told KABC. “I believe they melt them down and separate the metals and sell them because they’re worth more than gold.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recently arrested nearly 20 people in connection with catalytic converter thefts and recovered 250 of them valued at $750,000, KTVU reported.

The value of the metals inside the catalytic converters has increased, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Recyclers will pay up to $250 per catalytic converter, the agency told KNBC.

The thefts increased from 1,298 in 2018 to 14,433 in 2020, according to a report by NICB.

“As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices,” the NICB said in a statement. “There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals.”

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official told KTLA last week that the first generation Prius is among the more targeted cars because its catalytic converter is known to contain more precious metal.