By OW Staff

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has announced that two men have been charged with stealing catalytic converters and then attempting to flee before crashing into a patrol car.

“We are working collaboratively with law enforcement to prosecute catalytic converter thefts, however these cases are notoriously difficult to solve and prosecute,” Gascón said. “That’s why I am also working with state lawmakers on a legislative fix to prevent these crimes from occurring altogether by requiring that identification numbers be engraved on the catalytic converters themselves.”

Vue Xiong, 31, of San Luis Obispo and Fong Vang, 38, of Merced each face three felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of attempted grand theft.

Arraignment for case PA098167 is scheduled today in Department S of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, San Fernando Branch.

On April 9, the two men and a third suspect were reportedly seen in Santa Clarita stealing a catalytic converter and police were called. They attempted to flee from police, even after the patrol vehicles stopped pursuing them. The van finally came to a stop after running a red light and crashing into a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department cruiser, prosecutors said.

Eight catalytic converters were found in the van.

Gascón is sponsoring Senate Bill 986, which would prohibit automobile dealers and retailers from selling a new vehicle unless a vehicle identification number (VIN) has been engraved or etched onto the catalytic converter. It also would prohibit the cash sales of used catalytic converters by requiring core recyclers to accept only traceable payment methods, such as a credit card.

Catalytic converters, which are used to turn hazardous exhaust into less harmful gasses, are made of highly valuable metals such as platinum and can be worth up to $1,200.

Earlier this month, SB 986 was passed by the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee. It is slated to be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 26.

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