A record year for auto parts theft in Los Angeles

The Pandemic Era Increase in car thefts is well documented. Increasingly, however, thieves don’t want to take the whole car – sometimes they just want a valuable part.

Last year, auto parts theft in the city of Los Angeles rose to record highs. 2021 according to publicly available Los Angeles Police Department Data there were 5,020 reports of stolen auto parts. That’s a 42.8% increase from 3,515 reported thefts in 2020 and a staggering 129.5% increase from 2,187 cases in 2019.

Line chart of annual auto parts thefts 2015-2021

The pace of thefts has been fairly steady in 2021 with more than 350 incidents in 10 different months, a level not even reached in the city before the pandemic. The peak was reached last July when 478 thefts were reported.

LAPD data doesn’t specify exactly what was stolen in an auto parts theft, but numerous media and law enforcement reports have cited a spike in missing catalytic converters. The devices that reduce harmful emissions contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and palladium. They can be removed from the underside of a car in minutes and resold to unscrupulous junkyard owners for around $200.

Headlights and airbags are also sometimes targets for thieves.

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A rise in the COVID era

From 2014 to 2019, the city generally recorded about 2,000 auto parts thefts per year. incidents began rising Once COVID lockdowns forced people to leave their vehicle on the road for long periods, but never rejected as the economy reopened and drivers got back behind the wheel.

151 car parts thefts were reported Downtown last year, making it the hardest-hit neighborhood in Los Angeles. Also were often targeted western lake (120 reports) and Saint Peter (119).

Other hot spots for thieves were three neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley. In Van Nuys In 2021 there were 139 reports. Northridge saw 126 incidents and Sylmar had 119.

According to LAPD data, the most common time for thieves to steal parts is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Models like the Toyota Prius, Honda Accord and Ford Excursion are popular destinations.

“Pretty much everyone who has a 2005-2009 Prius has had their catalytic converter stolen,” said Oleg Livshits, the owner and manager of the Safeway Auto Center in North Hollywood — the neighborhood with the highest total theft rate since 2010 (758 reports) . . “The way it’s set up, anyone who can climb under a car can just cut it out and take it with them.”

the Spot price of palladium, a precious metal in converters, hit an all-time high in May 2021 when it sold for $3,005 an ounce. The price has fallen to around $1,900 an ounce, although catalytic converter thefts continue increase nationwide.

Victims regularly pay $2,000 to $3,000 to have a stolen converter replaced.

“In California, because of emissions legislation, the only catalytic converter you can replace it with is a dealer genuine catalytic converter,” explains Livshits.

To deter theft, law enforcement officials urge drivers to park in well-lit areas or in garages. Others recommend that a mechanic install a cage around their vehicle’s catalytic converter.

How we did it: We examined publicly available vehicle theft data from the Los Angeles Police Department from 1/1/2010 to 12/12. 31st, 2021.

LAPD data only reflects crimes reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. We base our calculations on the data that the LAPD makes publicly available. The LAPD may update previous crime reports with new information or recategorize previous reports. These revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.

Want to know how your neighborhood is doing? Or just interested in our data? Email us at [email protected].

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