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‘Play Silly Games Win Silly Prizes’: California Man Attempts to Steal Catalytic Converter While Victim Was In the Vehicle, She Runs Him Over

A California woman’s Valentine’s Day gave her an experience she won’t soon forget. She ended up killing a man trying to steal her catalytic converter from underneath her SUV with her in it.

The incident happened in Los Angeles County around 6 p.m. on Feb. 14. The unnamed woman was taking a nap inside her Ford Excursion parked in a shopping plaza parking lot. Next to the SUV pulled up a smaller car with four people inside, two males and two females.

A screenshot of video showing first responders tending to a male run over while trying to steal a catalytic converter. (Photo: KABC)

According to deputies, one of the males got out of the car and ventured underneath the parked SUV with a saw. He then began sawing at the catalytic converter.

The sawing noise startled the sleeping woman who then turned on her vehicle and put the SUV in reverse. As she began driving backwards, she felt a bump. She told deputies she “felt a bump like she ran something over.”

After she realized she hit or ran over something, she stopped her SUV immediately. She later found a Hispanic male lying on the ground. He had been run over by the 7,000 pound vehicle.

The woman called 911 for medical assistance. When paramedics arrived, the male was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

When deputies arrived, they detained the three remaining people inside the car.

Atlanta Black Star reached out to the Palmdale Sheriff’s Office to learn if the woman faces any charges. We also sought to learn the identities of the people arrested but our requests were not immediately returned.

Social media users learning of the incident added their voice to the court of public opinion.

“I’m pretty sure he got a warning to GET OUT from under the truck, WHEN THE MOTOR STARTED!” D.d Deets Henry wrote on Facebook.

“Well I’m sure he won’t be needing a saw where he is going. She shouldn’t have any charges brought against her,” Irving Mendoza said in a comment.

Other social media users focused on the irony of the situation.

“Make stupid choices get stupid results. He had some ‘f’ around and find out,” Berta Padilla Rosales wrote.

“I’m sorry he died, and my condolences go out to his family. But, play silly games win silly prizes,” Timothy Thompson said.

Catalytic converters filter out harmful engine exhaust, which include hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

USA Today reports catalytic converter thefts “increased 325% between 2019 and 2020.”

Catalytic converter parts contain “rhodium, palladium and platinum” and can go for $20,000 per ounce according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The NICB recommends installing a catalytic converter anti-theft device. It also recommends alarming your vehicle and parking in lit areas to reduce the chances of would-be thieves targeting your vehicle.

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