Man killed after interrupting suspected catalytic converter thieves in downtown L.A.


A man was shot and killed when he interrupted three people who were trying to remove a catalytic converter from a vehicle in downtown Los Angeles early Saturday, police said.

The man encountered the suspects around 3:25 a.m. near Pico Boulevard and Hope Street, said Officer Jader Chaves, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. One of them shot him before all three fled in a vehicle, Chaves said.

The victim, believed to be between 30 and 35, was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.

No additional details were immediately available.

The catalytic converter, an exhaust emission control device typically found in the undercarriage of a vehicle, contains precious metals like rhodium, palladium and platinum. Thieves can make hundreds of dollars selling them to auto parts suppliers or scrapyards, where they can be melted down and the highly valuable metals extracted.

Thefts of catalytic converters skyrocketed in California during the COVID-19 pandemic, which some attributed to an increase in economic distress. The trend prompted new state laws that make it illegal for recyclers to buy the part from anyone other than the legal owner or a licensed dealer and increase penalties for buyers who fail to certify that a catalytic converter wasn’t stolen.

Times staff writers Faith Pinho and Hannah Wiley contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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