Confrontation between homeowner and would-be catalytic converter thieves ends with fatal stabbing

A Los Angeles homeowner was brought in for questioning after a confrontation with suspected car part thieves ended in a fatal stabbing.

Early Friday morning detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) arrived on the scene at a South El Monte residence where an altercation had reportedly taken place between the homeowner and three suspects.

(Video: Fox 11)

“When deputies arrived on scene, they located a Hispanic male, 45-50 years of age, suffering from a stab wound to his upper torso. The decedent was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” according to law enforcement.

Reports indicated that the homeowner had been asleep in the house occupied by his mother, his sister and himself when he woke to noises in the driveway. It was then, around 2:30 am, that he was said to have grabbed a kitchen knife and confronted the suspected thieves in his driveway.

After locating mechanic’s tools consistent with catalytic converter theft at the scene, LASD noted, “Investigators learned that the decedent along with possibly two other suspects were attempting to steal vehicle parts from a vehicle parked in the driveway of the location.”

Descriptions of the two suspects said to have fled the scene had not been provided by officials, but the homeowner was brought in for questioning. While no charges were announced, it remains to be determined whether or not the stabbing was committed in self-defense.

Fox 11 spoke with criminal defense attorney Alexandra Kazarian who suggested, “I think going out there with the knife itself, I think that’s reasonable. I think that that can be explained. I think that can be defended. But the question is what happened? Did he go out there and just start wildly swinging the knife at people or was he approached? From what we know it sounds like he was approached.”

Meanwhile, despite laws aiming to crack down on catalytic converter thefts, Carfax detailed as many as 153,000 incidents may have occurred in the United States in 2022, an overall increase of two percent.

Maine State Police Sgt. Matt Casavant had said, “Parking lots — even ones that were well-lit — were getting hit. Car dealerships are getting hit on a regular basis, too. The thieves were so brazen that it didn’t matter.”

Even the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile had its catalytic converter reportedly stolen in Las Vegas in February as criminals capitalize on every opportunity to gather the precious metals for resale.

As to the homeowner’s actions, a neighbor wishing to remain unidentified spoke up for the man and said to Fox 11, “He was just trying to protect his family — his mom, his sister…”

According to LASD, “The investigation is ongoing, and currently there is no additional information,” other than “The remaining suspects were last seen entering a small compact vehicle and driving east…and out of view.”

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