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It appears the growing trend of catalytic converter thefts that have plagued the city and suburbs shows no signs of abating. Several Burbank vehicles have been targeted in recent weeks by thieves looking for a quick payday. (Read Scrap Metal Thieves Target Catalytic Converters)
The Burbank Beat received two messages last month from readers reporting that they had been a victim of this type of crime. Burbank Police confirmed at least four cases of catalytic converters being stolen from automobiles in the early morning hours of Monday Jan. 20 through Tuesday, Jan. 21.
A search of the Police to Citizen (P2C) website revealed eight incidents of “theft of motor vehicle parts” in Burbank since Jan. 1, 2014.
Last month a victim in the 7700 block of South McVicker Ave. reported that his wife was awaken about 3:30 a.m. by her car alarm. Her car was parked on the street in front of her house. When she opened the blinds of the front window, she saw another car double parked next to hers, suddenly speed away. The next morning the owner realized the catalytic converter had been taken by the low, throaty growl the car made when it was started. (It is uncertain whether the victim reported this theft to the Burbank Police.)
Thieves often target isolated vehicles. Working in pairs, a driver will park beside the targeted vehicle while a partner gets out and ducks under the car. Using a battery operated saw, the thief will remove the catalytic converter from the exhaust system in a matter of minutes, often doing hundreds of dollars in collateral damage to the victim’s car. The thieves then sell the converter to a scrap metal yard where they typically receive about $100 for the precious metals they contain.
All eight thefts in Burbank since the first of the new year have occurred in the area north of 79th Street. A Burbank police source said that in the past, most of these thefts were confined to the parking lots of businesses along Cicero Avenue. He said it was concerning the most recent incidents have been occurring on residential side streets.
Burbank and many of the surrounding suburbs have been experiencing these types of thefts for approximately the past year. Oak Lawn Patch reported a rash of catalytic converter thefts throughout the village last December (Read Catalytic Converter Crime Wave Hits Oak Lawn).
Police say a faction of the Gangster Disciples gang are behind many of these crimes
but believe the recent spate of thefts may be driven by media attention that has inspired copy cat criminals, coupled with the relative ease of the offense.
In order to combat these crimes, state officials have begun to crack down on the scrap metal yards that criminals use to turn their stolen wares into cash. State law requires each converter to come with paper work. The recycling center is supposed to verify the source of the converter but officials say many don't.