After having catalytic converters stolen off his vehicle several times, a fed-up man set out to catch the thieves. When he finally spotted the man causing him so much grief, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
With his work van parked in Dallas’ Design District, professional photographer Clay Hayner had become an easy target for thieves. Four separate times, thieves had cut out the catalytic converter from underneath his vehicle in order to make some quick money, he told KDFW.
Fed up with the crooks, Hayner was determined to catch them in the act. He set up a Ring security camera to keep an eye on his vehicle at all times. When he received a notification that someone was lurking around his van, he set out to put an end to the pilfering once and for all.
Clay Hayner watched as the man slid under his van and went to work trying to remove the converter. Having seen enough, Hayner then stepped outside to confront the thief and salvage his property.
“I see a guy waking around the van and he’s starting to move some of the stuff under there,” Clay Hayner recalled.
When Hayner interrupted the thief, he says the suspect brandished a knife, KXAS reported. It was then that Hayner released all the frustration he had compiled from thieves repeatedly targeting his van.
“I run out there…I figured he’d run up the street by the time I got out there. And I look and he’s under there, and he’s got a knife. And I just kind of lost it,” Clay Hayner recalled. “And that’s when I started beating him.”
VIDEO: A Dallas man confronted — and beat — a man who appeared to be attempting to steal a catalytic converter from his van. “I’m leaving! Im leaving!” the suspect shouted. Police are investigating. More on @FOX4. pic.twitter.com/ymr2ARi6iG
— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) August 7, 2022
Despite being armed with a knife, the thief was no match for the photographer. With a light stand in hand, Hayner reached under the van and began striking the thief with the metal pole.
“And I just started beating on his hand until I broke it and then he let go,” Hayner recalled.
After repeated blows, the suspect rolled out from under the vehicle and fled, leaving behind a duffle bag filled with power tools. Hayner explained that this was “the fourth time they’ve tried to take it and they’ve gotten it twice.”
“So all this frustration of me having to watch the van constantly, them stealing my stuff. It just kind of built up,” Hayner explained. “I work hard to have things; have a car, travel, do all this stuff. And then these guys just come in and take it and sell this calibrator for like $40.”
While speaking about the incident, Hayner said he hopes investigators will catch the thief, who had not yet been identified, because he and his neighbors have had enough.
“We’re sick of this. We’re not going to put up with this anymore,” Hayner said. “Everyone is so happy that I fought back. A bunch of neighbors came by to say thanks because I probably saved their cars from getting taken.”
Catalytic converter theft is on the rise as some may sell for over $1,000 apiece. As such, police are warning residents to install protective metal plates over theirs to prevent theft.
While Clay Hayner admits that he isn’t a natural fighter and has “never been in a fight” before that night, he confesses that he would do it again. He believes thieves will continue to target his neighborhood unless he and the other residents start fighting back.
At a time when justice is often absent and criminals are let off the hook, citizens are starting to take matters into their own hands. Hopefully, they will be armed with something a bit more effective than a light stand.