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A rise in catalytic converter thefts

 December 8, 2021 at 10:14 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:04)

Good morning. I'm Annica Colbert. It's Wednesday, December 8th, thousands of catalytic converter thefts more on that next, but first let's do the headlines.

Speaker 1: (00:20)

The San Diego county board of supervisors voted three to two on Tuesday to continue the local health COVID 19 pandemic emergency order. During the Tuesday presentation county public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten said the county is still experiencing increased case rates with the Delta virus, variants being predominant Wooten added that while the O crown variant hasn't been detected in the county, she says it's only a matter of time before it will 18 states, including California have already reported cases involving the O crown variant. The San Diego county district attorney has filed felony charges against 10 people in connection with violence that broke out at a pro-Trump rally in San Diego. Last January, the DA's office says the defendants had ties to Antifa. Some are asking why the da didn't also file charges against Trump supporters who were violent that day. But the da says the majority of the violence was caused by Antifa affiliated defendants. If the defendants could face up to 10 years in prison, the San Diego unified school district is closer to naming a new superintendent. After eight months of reviewing candidates, the district's advisory committee now has a list of 10 people for the board to interview committee chairman, Christopher Rice, Wilson says all candidates were per us on their plans for dealing with the ongoing COVID 19 crisis. I would

Speaker 2: (01:47)

Project we'll be in a pandemic in January when they take the helm, they will have to deal with that and they will have to deal with parents dissatisfaction

Speaker 1: (01:54)

From K PBS. You are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news. You need Thousands of catalytic converters have been reported stolen from cars in San Diego county surveillance videos, show thieves, getting away with the converter before anyone notices K PBS's, Tanya thorn takes a closer look at how this is happening. They're being

Speaker 3: (02:26)

Dubbed cat burglars, but they're not after your jewels. They're target catalytic converters apart found underneath cars that reduces their harmful emissions. Thief stole catalytic converters from Vista resident, Amanda Hendricks twice. The first time her murder was stolen three days before Christmas,

Speaker 4: (02:47)

Thankfully the, um, insurance took care of it. They told the police came. They told us, park it in the driveway under a light that will discourage. So we did it, everything they said. Um, then April came along and happened

Speaker 3: (03:04)

Again. This time her ring camera got footage of the theft happening. Her car was jacked up and the converter stolen in under four minutes. It's

Speaker 4: (03:14)

Very frustrating. I'm a light sleeper anyway. And then it just, it adds a level of anxiety that, you know, you, you feel like those are your private things, you know, and to have somebody coming and damaging it, taking it apart, you know, and it just, it felt like such a violation.

Speaker 3: (03:31)

And she's not the only one this year, more than 1500 converter thefts have been reported in San Diego cameras have captured thefts happening in broad daylight in public places. But why have catalytic converters become a hot commodity? The parts contain platinum and Rium and the price per ounces for these precious metals has gone up in the last year to Yoda Prius, converters contain more of these metals, making them the biggest targets. And they're

Speaker 5: (03:59)

Cutting anywhere from here to there, wherever they can. And, uh, run off with them, put 'em in the trunk and leave.

Speaker 3: (04:04)

You know, Tony English owns wholesale performance muffler in Escondido. He says he sees cars whose converters have been stolen every week, especially after the weekend,

Speaker 5: (04:14)

They steal the catalytic converters and they sell 'em to recyclers. You know, uh, most of the legit recycle won't buy 'em, but there are, uh, you know, they, they trickle it down somehow and they get 'em

Speaker 3: (04:25)

Sold somewhere. Some insurances do cover stolen catalytic converters, but they don't cover the shield that protects the converter from theft.

Speaker 5: (04:34)

And that is a Prius shield to keep from stealing the Prius. Catalytic converter

Speaker 3: (04:39)

English says he's installing more

Speaker 5: (04:41)

Of them. Prius's for instance, are $3,600 just in parts when somebody steals your CATA converter. So a $500 shield really sounds like a really good investment, you know, while

Speaker 3: (04:51)

The shields protect the converter law enforcement is trying to crack down on the thefts happening across the county.

Speaker 6: (04:57)

What's happening before is if someone was caught to acted with, um, catalytic converters say in the middle of the night, and we didn't, we weren't able to link them to a crime that was, you know, what we, we believe was stolen property, but, um, we needed a victim to, you know, file a case matched up to

Speaker 3: (05:15)

A car. Lieutenant Bo Barrett with the Escondido police department says the district attorney's office had, has given police the green light to start making arrests. In

Speaker 6: (05:25)

Speaking with the such attorney's office. They're saying there is no other reason to have these things in the middle of the night, um, and they are stolen property. So we have the probable cause to make that arrest and they will file on those cases. Lieutenant

Speaker 3: (05:37)

Barreth says, since no arrests were being made due to the pandemic, these were getting bull old. So bold that in August thief stole a catalytic converter from an Escondido police department, van surveillance footage helped police catch the

Speaker 6: (05:51)

Thieves. Tula Vista was able to make a stop on that vehicle. About four days later, um, there were some catalytic converters in that vehicle at the time. Um, unfortunately because of the timeframe difference between the, the, the days that we didn't get, uh, a conviction on our case. But I mean, the, the person was, uh, contacted by law enforcement

Speaker 3: (06:07)

Police departments have also hosted events where community members can get their catalytic converters engraved with their VIN number in case it is ever stolen. Officials recommend parking your vehicle inside a garage or in a wallet area, getting security cameras and alarms, and consider getting a cat shield to protect the

Speaker 1: (06:26)

Converter. And that was K PBS's. Tanya thorn, San Diego city council member. Jen Campbell is under fire over her staff member's involvement in the process of drawing new council districts, K PBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen says critics want an investigation

Speaker 7: (06:51)

For months. San Diego's independent redistricting commission has been debating how to redraw the city's nine city council districts. In October. It looked as if Campbell would be drawn into a new district, meaning she'd have to move to run for reelection. That's when her senior policy advisor Shamus Kennedy started proposing maps that wouldn't require her to move. Campbell says she didn't ask him to do that. But a nonprofit group last week asked the city attorney's us to investigate the matter the office responded saying, they'll look into it, but that everyone has a right to engage in the redistricting process as a private citizen. And

Speaker 1: (07:27)

That was K PBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, the city council approved a new community plan for Barrio Logan, Tuesday, K PBS race and equity reporter. Christina Kim tells us it's an update. That's more than 40 years in the making

Speaker 7: (07:46)

Barrio Logan, the heart of San Diego's Chicano and Latino community could soon have a new community plan that lays out where homes and businesses can be built in the future. It's been 43 years since the plan was last updated council member of Vivian Mo who represents Bario. Logan says it shouldn't have taken this long. The

Speaker 8: (08:06)

Adoption of the Barrio Logan community plan update is a major accomplishment. The residents of Barrio Logan have long desire to have a modern community plan. And the fruit of their labor is before us

Speaker 7: (08:19)

Todays it in redlined in the early 20th century only to have freeways and bridges tear through its center in the 1960s body. Logan now has some of the highest rates of asthma in the state for a long time activist and residents. The new plan is a way of building a more equitable future and addressing that past Naomi Sanchez grew up and lives in BA it

Speaker 9: (08:41)

Does not make up for all of the years of injustice, but it's definitely a better step moving forward for our communities and our future generations.

Speaker 7: (08:51)

The extensive plan includes changing the zoning for a 65 acre area in the community. This would create a transitional buffer zone between where people live and heavy industrial activities. In 2013, an updated community plan containing the buffer zone was approved, but then maritime businesses funded a referendum the next year, which scrapped the entire plan this time. However, the maritime industry is on board. And for the first time in the city's history, the new plan also contains anti displacement measures, including requiring 15% affordable housing and new developments and providing priority to new housing for body of Logan residents, something that Sanchez a body Logan resident knows will impact her and others in the community. It definitely

Speaker 9: (09:40)

Will give people the tranquility of knowing they're gonna have somewhere to live. Next month.

Speaker 7: (09:48)

Mark Steele is the chair of the Batya Logan community planning group. He credits the plan's ability to move forward with the agreement reach just last year,

Speaker 10: (09:57)

Where we are today is a result of a successful negotiation between environmental health coalition, the ship building industry ship repair industry, and the EO Logan planning group to create an memorandum of understanding that outlined all the details of uses that were allowed and not allowed in the transitions.

Speaker 7: (10:16)

The city council will review the plan again in January before sending it to the coastal commission sometime next year.

Speaker 1: (10:23)

And that was KPBS race and equity reporter, Christina Kim Tuesday marked the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the United States into world war II. A ceremony to commemorate the occasion was held aboard the USS midway museum. K PBS's John Carroll

Speaker 11: (10:48)

Was there aboard the midway, the two bell ceremony, remembering Pearl Harbor vets no longer with us and the playing of taps, a fitting tune for Tuesday morning ceremony. The first one where none of San Diego's dwindling number of Pearl Harbor survivors were able to attend USS midway museum marketing director, Dave Koons. They were the,

Speaker 12: (11:18)

It always kept the message that we should never forget. We think it's incumbent upon ourselves, the generations of today to continue to deliver that message so that America's always ready, cuz we never know what's gonna happen.

Speaker 11: (11:28)

John Carroll, KPBS news

Speaker 1: (11:34)

Coming up. What do you do when there's a shortage of bus drivers? I'm

Speaker 13: (11:40)

Happy. They brought in the national guard. Drivers one feels more secure. They seem more prepared, but that's

Speaker 1: (11:44)

Just me. We'll have more on the many, many things. The national guard troops are being asked to do that's next just after the break, The national guard is being tasked with a growing number of missions. They're not just fighting wars overseas, but also responding to natural disasters protests and the pandemic at home. In some states they've even been asked to drive school buses, critics say all those de employments are straining the force Carson frame reports for the American home front project

Speaker 14: (12:40)

On a recent weekday in Chelsea, Massachusetts Jae waited on his front porch for the van service that takes his son to school. The wait was shorter than it was earlier in the year. When a driver shortage crippled the school transportation system.

Speaker 13: (12:58)

I had to take him to school for three weeks because the school bus didn't go by. I had to get out of work to do it because I go in at eight, they told me there were problems. There weren't enough drivers. First the bus had to drop off one group of kids. Then pick up another. That changed

Speaker 14: (13:12)

When the governor of Massachusetts called the national guard to fill in for a time Korea's son was greeted by a uniformed military member behind the wheel. Thank you. Corio told w B R that he appreciated how reliable they were.

Speaker 13: (13:28)

I'm happy. They brought in the national guard. Drivers one feels more secure. They seem more prepared, but that's just

Speaker 14: (13:33)

Me. The Buster IR deployment is just one example of how the national guard's role has expanded. Since last year. National guard troops have been deployed repeatedly, not only by the president, but also by governors who called them up to assist with pandemic relief, respond to last summer's protests and patrol the Southern border all while balancing wildfires, hurricanes and duties overseas. Some state guard leaders say troops enjoy the domestic missions because they can directly serve their neighbors. But they argue that back to back mobilizations aren't sustainable general James E heads, the Florida national guard. When you think

Speaker 15: (14:09)

About that impact on families and employers, it's pretty significant. And then you add in the challenges of in the middle of a pandemic when there's so much uncertainty and, and uh, moms and dads are pulled away from, from kids and families.

Speaker 14: (14:22)

I says Florida needs more guard troops so it can rotate them and relieve the strain. His counterparts in Texas and California are making similar arguments, Texas Republican, Tony Gonzalez is among more than 40 members of Congress asking the defense department to allocate more national guard troops to bigger states or make the guard larger across the board.

Speaker 16: (14:42)

I think it's so important that we increase the bottom line. We increase the overall manpower and health of, uh, the guard, uh, to make sure that those that, that have been doing the heavy lifting, get their batteries recharged.

Speaker 14: (14:56)

The defense department decides how to distribute national guard. Troops based on budgets passed by Congress, retired army Colonel Mike Lennick once managed that process for the army. And now works as a defense analyst for the Rand corporation. He's not hearing much discussion within the Pentagon about increasing the size of the guard for domestic missions. He says that's probably because the guard's main purpose is national defense not responding to governor's requests.

Speaker 17: (15:21)

I do think that there's an active debate amongst a lot of stakeholders about whether or not there are alternatives available to the governor that might be are suited for a long term shift in those kinds of patterns than repeated requirements being placed on the guard.

Speaker 14: (15:38)

Lennick argues the conversation should be more about how governors use their guards, not how many guard troops they have to use. He worries that the guards ever expanding list of duties will drive people away from serving. What

Speaker 17: (15:49)

We've observed in the past is that the more often you call on reserves and reserve units to be used, the more pressures you have on retention because the soldiers themselves often say this isn't really what I signed up for. If I'd have wanted to be deployed this much or employed this much, I would've joined the regular army.

Speaker 14: (16:10)

Linux says it's unlikely. The Pentagon will put a lot more money into the guard relative to its other funding demands like active duty troops and equipment state leaders say they'll keep lobbying Congress and the Pentagon to help fund the guards growing responsibilities. I'm Carson frame in San Antonio. This story

Speaker 1: (16:26)

Was produced by the American home front project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. That's it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS midday edition at noon on KPBS radio, or check out the midday edition podcast. You can also watch K PBS evening edition at five o'clock on K PBS television. And as always you can find more San Diego news I'm Anna Culbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Speaker 18: (17:30)


Thousands of catalytic converters have been reported stolen in San Diego County in the past year. Meanwhile, Barrio Logan, the heart of San Diego’s Chicano and Latino community, could soon adopt and implement a new community plan. It would be the first update to the community’s growth and development plan in 43 years. Plus, the National Guard are being asked to do many, many different things from responding to protests to driving school buses, and critics say it’s putting a strain on the guard.