Man run over and killed while underneath a car, trying to steal a catalytic converter

Originally published at: Man run over and killed while underneath a car, trying to steal a catalytic converter | Boing Boing


Surprising there was even a catalytic converter on that.


California requires catalytic converters on all vehicles manufactured after (IIRC) 2009. It might be easier to spot a missing one on a lifted vehicle.

I feel terrible for this woman. It’s not a good feeling to have a part stolen off one’s vehicle, but accidentally running over and killing the thief could result in serious PTSD.

Three other suspects who had been waiting for the man in a nearby car were arrested.

Criminal masterminds “inconspicuously” waiting around to see what happened to their idiot friend. Or maybe there was meth to finish.


I feel bad for this woman as well.

“Catalytic converter thefts shot up 1,215% between 2019 and 2022.”

How is this a thing? Couldn’t they make it a million times harder to sell a CC to a metal scrapper? Can there really be that many legal sources of CC’s? I can’t just walk into a pawn shop with a handful of jewelry without raising questions.


Apparently the price of rhodium and platinum really shot up in 2019.

They’ve introduced a bunch of new laws in CA to try to get things under control. Still, junkyards and dealers in precious metals aren’t famous for being above-the-board industries.

California lawmakers also produced their own pile of 11 bills this most recent session. Many died early, but four wound their way through several layers of committees and votes. They are:

  • AB-1653, which adds theft of vehicle parts to the list of crimes the California Highway Patrol’s Regional Property Crimes Task Force should >prioritize.
  • SB 1087, which limits legal sellers of catalytic converters to people who can prove it came from their own vehicle, and to businesses including licensed auto dismantlers and repair dealers. Fines for breaking the law start at $1,000, and escalate for repeat violations.
  • AB 1740, which requires people or businesses who buy catalytic converters to document the purchase by recording the year, make, model, and VIN number of the car that the converter came from.
  • SB 986, which would require car dealers to etch a car’s unique VIN number onto its catalytic converter if the converter is “readily accessible.” It would also require a traceable method of payment for converters.

The first three bills were signed into law while the fourth failed to pass a late August vote in the Assembly.

Car dealerships killed that last one, because of course it would cost them money.


In many places it is already illegal unless done in a very specific, documented way, but all that means is that you have to drive a bit farther or know a crooked junkyard owner to sell it. Even if it was completely illegal to trade in cats, though, all you really need is aqua regia (easily manufactured from common hardware store chemicals, or just bought online by the barrel), a bit of knowledge easily acquired via online videos, and enough cats to make it worthwhile. Crash out the noble metals, melt, cast, and sell your “100% pure platinum button” on ebay. Someone will buy it, even it it’s half lead.


He could have just been a porch pirate, but no, everyone said stealing catalytic converters was where the money was.

1 Like

My cat was stolen from my 2007 Prius in Sept. The same thieves hit three other cars that same morning… and they were probably responsible for a similar string of thefts in other towns in previous weeks. The cop who took the report assumed that these were sold out of state. In fact the very next week someone was busted in North Carolina for this trade. He also said that they really like vehicles like bread vans, because no jack is needed to get under them… just a battery powered sawzall and away you go. The insurance company replaced the cat instead of totaling my car as I strongly hinted they should do (it required the original California grade cat which was $3500) and ultimately I sold the car two months later for less than the cost of replacing it…


I lost the cat on my Prius about a year ago, in Maryland. The replacement cat is allegedly less sought after, hoping would be thieves know the replacement ones have less value.


Yeah, but they gotta commit the crime to find out, right? They’re going to take the low value one too.


Having the VIN on the cat is a fantastic idea for curbing theft. Shame on dealerships for killing that bill. Seems like the kind of thing the Federal government could get passed as a regulation for new car sales, but I’m sure Congress would put the burden on the auto makers because it makes even more sense that forcing dealerships to do it.


I don’t know how hard it is for thieves, but it sure is hard for the rightful owners. I recently had my converter replaced (there was a hole in it), and I asked the shop to just toss the old one in the bed so I could sell it myself and maybe recoup some of the $400 bill. Nothing doing! Turns out they have to keep it at least 6 months before I can ask for it back. (This is in Missouri, other states might vary.) You bet I’ve got that date on my calendar.


The cars in my area were all Japanese hybrids from before 2010. From what I heard, the more modern ones don’t have the metal content the thieves are looking for, and in the most modern cars the amount of metal is a lot less than it used to be. I think solving this issue for the older vehicles is going to be difficult.


It wasn’t the Weinermobile, was it?


That’s so sad. I hope that the guy’s dependents (if any) will be okay; and, as @gracchus points out, that the driver isn’t too traumatized.

I had to work hard to parse that sentence.



Poor guy failed at opsec, it’s still a tragedy even if the crime really sucks for the isn’t a violent crime, and nobody deserves summary execution.


I want that cat!!!


My comment was largely flippant about how the typical audience for that type of vehicle are more likely to be of the “fuck the environment” persuasion. Especially a lifted Excursion of all things.

It is a great idea even though I tend to think the kind of places that fence these aren’t too likely to look at any etchings.

Catalytic converter theft has been a problem for a while now and seems to come and go with the precious metal pricing ebbs and flows (just like how copper pipe theft was all the rage a few years back). It doesn’t help that removing them is often just a matter of getting under the car and undoing a few bolts or cutting the pipes if you’re really in a hurry.


… so floofy :open_mouth:


A few years ago, an elderly man in Ottawa was out walking in his neighborhood when he suffered a heart attack. He collapsed but managed to crawl along the sidewalk. He crawled just enough to place himself behind a car parked in a driveway. The driver of said car came out of the home, jumped in his vehicle, and proceeded to back over the old man, killing him instantly.

When I relayed this story to my brother, his dark response was as follows: “That was just God’s way of saying, ‘I said lie the fuck down…’ “

1 Like