by Photo by Manuel Ocaño

A Toyota Prius owner was the target of a catalytic converter theft early Wednesday morning in Chula Vista. 

Three men were seen removing the device from beneath the vehicle around 5:20 a.m. at the victim’s home on Normandy Drive. According to OnScene TV, this is the second time thieves swiped the catalytic converter, which cost the victim $3,000 to replace.

The victim reported the incident to 911-officers and described the suspects fleeing in a Nissan Versa. Officers with the Chula Vista Police Department spotted a vehicle matching the description and pursued the car.

Police lost the suspected vehicle on north Interstate 805 in the heavy traffic near Plaza Boulevard. 

Catalytic converters are emissions control devices located underneath a vehicle and restrict carbon monoxide from coming out of the vehicle’s tailpipe that contains three valuable metals: platinum, rhodium, and pallidum. Stolen catalytic converters can bring the thief up to $250, yet cost the motorist up to $4,000 to replace, according to a report by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair. 

The San Diego District Attorney’s office and the Chula Vista Police Department partnered with Sen. Brian Jones last month to introduce Assembly Bill 919, which aims to decrease Catalytic converter thefts in California. If passed, the bill would require all new and used car  dealerships to permanently engrave the car’s vehicle identification number onto the converter. Metal recyclers are allowed to buy catalytic converters with visible and untampered VIN only. 

The legislation is sponsored by the Chula Vista Police Department, which purchased engraving systems to permanently engrave residents’ VIN to their catalytic converters. 

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