Driver Kills Catalytic Converter Thief Accidentally Running Him Over

Through no intention of her own, a woman in her SUV rolled over and killed a catalytic converter thief in the process of committing the crime of cutting off the catalytic converter. This happened yesterday in Palmdale, California. Now, Palmdale is just north of Los Angeles, and, it is kind of like the wild wild west there. 

Cat converters
A catalytic converter ripe for stealing | Getty

So catalytic converter theft is like the Blitzkrieg but in Palmdale. And rather than happening in a dark alley or quiet street, it happened in a well-lit retail parking lot, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department statement. We would guess there was a Walmart, RiteAid, and McDonald’s there, but we digress.

When the Sheriff’s Department arrived, they saw a lifted Ford Excursion slightly out of its parking space. There was a deceased man lying on the ground next to it. Excursions are a terrific source for catalytic converters, mainly because there is plenty of space under them to apply your catalytic converter excision. 

How did the catalytic converter thief end up being run over?

catalytic converters
Seized catalytic converters | James Carbone/Newsday RM via Getty

The victim, unfortunately, chose a pedestrian Ford Excursion with no indication that torching a catalytic converter of the subject Excursion would be any different than the assuredly long list of past victims. Except that the owner of said SUV was inside, sleeping. That in itself, is odd, in an already very odd tale of crime. 

The thieves pulled up with a criminal organization of four, inside their getaway heap, according to the LA Times. One of the occupants got out, slid under the Excursion, and began executing their act of excising the prized catalytic converter. 

“The victim woke up from the sound, turned the car on, put the vehicle in reverse, and felt a bump like she ran something over,” the police department said. “She stopped immediately, leaving the suspect on the ground after running him over.”

Why was this Excursion a target for catalytic converter theft?

Catalytic converter ripe for plucking | Getty

Proof of her intentions, which were not to kill the thief under her SUV, was revealed when she called 911 in the hope of getting medics to arrive. Though it is a Good Samaritan effort, the victim was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. The police detained the other three occupants of the theft getaway car. There is no word on whether the three survivors face criminal charges.

Any pickup truck or SUV, especially one with a lift, is the perfect target for thieves wanting an easy swipe. So do you have a daily that falls into this category? Here’s what you can do to not become a victim. 

How can vehicle owners protect themselves?

Catalytic converters | Getty

Stop! Thief! What You Need to Know About Catalytic Converter Theft

Park in well-lit areas where activity around your vehicle is noticeable. Parking in a garage or parking structure increases your odds of avoiding cat converter theft. Metal cages shielding the cat converter welded to the car’s undercarriage help prevent access. Engraving the VIN or license plate number onto the cat discourages thieves from continuing to remove it. 

Catalytic converter theft has risen by 1,200 percent in the last year. So if you think this may not happen to you, you’re snubbing statistics, and also the times we’re living in.