SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (KTLA) — Authorities arrested 28 people and seized 112 catalytic converters in an Inland Empire-area operation cracking down on the illegal trafficking of the car parts, authorities announced Wednesday.

There’s been an increase in thefts of catalytic converters from cars throughout Southern California, and officials say many of the stolen car parts end up being bought up by automotive repair shops and recycling facilities. 

Thieves typically target the vehicle exhaust emission control devices because they contain precious metals and can be scrapped for a quick profit.

DMV officials and multiple law enforcement agencies in Chino Hills, Chino, Upland, Montclair, Ontario, Fontana and other San Bernardino County areas worked together on the operation to fight the unlawful trafficking of stolen catalytic converters.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on June 8, 2022, released this image of seized catalytic converters.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, on June 8, 2022, released this image of seized catalytic converters (SBCSD)

Officers visited 64 auto repair shops and recycling facilities throughout the area, searching for suspected stolen catalytic converters, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

They ended up seizing dozens of catalytic converters, arresting 28 people and issuing four citations for environmental violations.

“These thefts victimize innocent members of our communities and cause financial hardships,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.” We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat these crimes at every level and hold the offenders responsible.”

A stolen catalytic converter can typically fetch between $50 and $250 when sold to an unscrupulous recycling facility, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

But it can cost a lot more for a victim to replace their stolen catalytic converter once it has been cut off by thieves.

Vehicles that sit higher off the ground — like trucks, SUVs and vans — are common targets, and so are Hybrids like Toyota Priuses because their converters tend to be less worn, according to the American Automobile Association.

Authorities have not released further details on the Inland Empire arrests, and no other information was immediately available.