The city of Los Angeles recorded the highest number of auto-parts thefts for a single month in at least 11 years in January, according to a report released Thursday.

There were 471 such crimes reported in the first month of the year, according to Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization based out of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, in partnership with the Integrated Media Systems Center at the Viterbi School of Engineering.

The number of reports of stolen car parts started to increase in Los Angeles in August 2019. But the number began to skyrocket in October, when there were 256 reports of stolen car parts; and the number nearly doubled from that amount three months later, according to Crosstown.

The months between November and February represent the four highest monthly totals for auto-part theft reports recorded in the city since 2010, when the Los Angeles Police Department began to make its data public.

Also, there has been an increased number of thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles. Catalytic converters help regulate a vehicle’s exhaust emissions. Unlike other car parts, which are often sent to chop shops, catalytic converters are targeted for their precious metals, which include platinum, palladium and rhodium.

On March 10, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in Santa Clarita recovered 250 catalytic converters valued at $750,000. That same day, Santa Monica police officers arrested three suspects who were caught in the act of stealing a catalytic converter.

Sheriff’s Deputy Welby Cham, who works out of the Cerritos Station, believes that the recent increase in thefts can be attributed to shortages in the precious metals as more electric cars are hitting the streets.

While all vehicle owners should be vigilant, the sheriff’s department warned that thieves tend to target models such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Prius and Ford Excursion.

Crosstown reviewed publicly available LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department data on reported crimes in the city of Los Angeles and in the LASD’s jurisdiction.

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