The Los Angeles City Council has ordered the city attorney to write an ordinance prohibiting the illegal possession of catalytic converters in the city in a bid to stem a five-year spike in thefts.
“It’s a crime that happens to constituents in our community that hurts people and that we’re allowing, we’re not acting on, if we don’t pass it today,” said Councilman John Lee, who has co-filed the motion.
According to the motion, which passed an 8-4 vote, 972 catalytic converters were reported stolen citywide in 2018. In 2022, the city reported nearly 8,000 catalytic converter thefts, an increase of nearly 728% in the past five years alone.
The robbery was captured in broad daylight by a security camera from the house where he was parked. The suspect fled.
“This is a common sense measure that simply gives law enforcement an additional tool that will protect our communities from rampant and damaging theft,” Lee said.
The order would require a person in possession of an unconnected catalytic converter to present a valid form of documentation showing that they are in lawful possession of the device.
A catalytic converter is an exhaust emissions control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants contained in the exhaust gases of an internal combustion engine into less toxic pollutants, depending on the motion.
“Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise nationwide, and California has the dubious honor of leading the nation in the number of converters stolen,” according to the motion. “Due to the outdoor location and the use of precious precious metals, these devices are a target for thieves.”
Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez, who opposed the ordinance, rejected Lee’s proposal, saying the ordinance “would not make our city safer” or prevent the theft of catalytic converters.
“This ordinance is costing the city dearly,” Hernandez said. ‘It will lead to more cases for the city attorney. This will result in more money spent in the courts and more money spent on public defenders.
The replacement of this piece is a very high expense for the victims of this crime. This is why the authorities have developed strategies to avoid or reduce this type of theft.
He also asked, if the motion is approved, that the city conduct a study on the impacts of the ordinance, believing that members of the black, Latino, Native American and immigrant communities would be the most affected.
Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Nithya Raman, Hugo Soto-Martinez and Hernandez voted against the ordinance by an 8-4 vote.