When a thief spotted a parked vehicle in a secluded parking lot, he decided to seize his chance to steal its catalytic converter. After crawling under the SUV, much to his horror, he suddenly heard the engine fire up. That’s when it started moving.
A California community has been left searching for a solution to an uptick in crime after a would-be catalytic converter thief made a fatal flaw. Now, investigators are warning the public to watch out for these criminals and take extra precautions to ensure an incident such as this one doesn’t happen again.
The event occurred just before 6 p.m. at a secluded area on the 39000 block of 10th Street West in Palmdale. According to CBS News, deputies say a group of thieves targeted a parked SUV in a retail parking lot after they assumed it was an abandoned vehicle. Unfortunately for them, their simple mistake cost one of the suspects his life.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says that four suspects in a car pulled up into the parking spot beside a “lifted” 4×4 Ford Excursion. Then, one man exited the car and crawled under the SUV, intent on stealing the vehicle’s catalytic converter. Suddenly, the SUV’s ignition started, the Associated Press reports.
Deputies say that although the SUV looked abandoned, it wasn’t empty at all. In fact, the female driver was merely napping when she awoke to the sound of sawing coming from the undercarriage of her vehicle.
Panicked by the sound that woke her from her nap, the woman started the SUV and quickly threw the car in reverse. She only stopped after she realized she had run over something.
“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 department said. “She stopped immediately, leaving the suspect on the ground after running him over.”
The driver immediately called 911 to get medical help for the suspect, but the damage was done. The suspect was rushed to Antelope Valley Hospital but was later pronounced dead. Luckily, the three other individuals, a man and two women, were detained by deputies. Police did not immediately release the names or charges of those involved. It was also unclear whether the female driver of the Expedition would face charges.
In the last few years, the theft of catalytic converters has skyrocketed. With the rise of this particular crime, the LA County Sheriff’s Office has announced a set of tips to ward off catalytic converter theft.
Police are warning car owners, especially those who own trucks or SUVs that are lifted, to be wary of thieves. They recommend parking in well-lit areas close to your home, parking inside a garage, having the catalytic converter welded to the car’s frame, engraving the vehicle’s VIN and license plate numbers on the converter, and calibrating your car alarm to activate when it detects vibration.
Understandably, the community is shocked by the horrific outcome of the incident. However, it is part and parcel of a life of crime. When an individual engages in criminal activity, especially the theft of private property, they take their life into their own hands.
The tragic event highlights the dangers of such a crime for both the suspect and the victim. Fortunately, the car owner wasn’t physically harmed in the process. Of course, the suspect paid the ultimate price for a quick buck.