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Auto shop owner says thief spent 2 hours stealing catalytic converters

File photo, Blue Sky Auto Repair, at 7601 Greenback Ln. // CH Sentinel

By Mike Hazlip—
A Citrus Heights business owner says a thief stole several catalytic converters from his vehicle parked over night at his place of business.

Eric Bassett, owner of Blue Sky Auto Repair at 7601 Greenback Ln., says surveillance video shows a male individual working about two hours to remove all four catalytic converters from his Toyota Tundra. While many vehicles only have one, some models of Tundra reportedly have up to four catalytic converters.

“I think he was fairly inexperienced,” Bassett said. “Somebody who knew what they were doing, it shouldn’t take them that long.”

Basset says he contacted Citrus Heights police and provided a the surveillance video to authorities. Police Lt. Chad Morris confirmed that officers took a report of the incident on Sept. 28, but the investigation is suspended due to “a lack evidentiary of leads.”

Morris said police were not able to identify the man based on the video provided by Bassett.

Despite Bassett’s encounter, Morris says catalytic converter thefts are down overall in the city compared to the same time period last year.

From Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 this year, police saw 129 catalytic converter theft reports compared with 198 for the same time period in 2021.

Thieves steal the exhaust part for the precious metals inside, Morris said. The parts are not numbered, making it difficult for police to identify victims and make arrests.

Gov. Gavin Newsom this year signed two bills aimed at curbing the underground market for catalytic converters. ABC10 reports the bills make it illegal to buy the parts from anyone other than a licensed dealer or dismantler, while also requiring buyers and sellers to keep records of the transactions. California leads the nation in catalytic converter thefts, according to the report.

Morris said parking a vehicle in a secure area that is well-lit can help deter thieves. Some automotive shops also offer services to further deter thieves by welding metal rods onto the part.

All of the recommended safety measures were in place on the night the incident occurred, Bassett said. The cost of replacing the parts can run between $9,000 and $13,000, he said. Others put the estimate around $6,000 to $7,000.

For Bassett, the most frustrating thing about the incident is the lack of response from passers by shown on the video.

“I think the most upsetting part for me was watching video, and I could see the guy,” Bassett said. “He was here for two hours. He went back and forth four or five times, and he was sitting under the truck right over here.”

“I don’t know if you’ve ever heard cutting metal, cutting pipe, it’s loud,” the owner said. “It’s three o’clock in the morning, and on the video I see people walking by, paying no attention, called no cops.”

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