SAN ANTONIO – At least 50 new SUVs had their catalytic converters stolen early Thursday at Mission Mitsubishi on San Pedro to the dismay of Islam Hindash, the dealership’s co-owner.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I could not believe it,” Hindash said. The dealership is still checking whether other vehicles also were targeted.
He said just a few days earlier, Mitsubishi Motors North America had warned dealerships of thefts in Dallas and Austin.
Hindash said he knows some of the owners in Dallas who reported as many as 300 vehicles were targeted at each of their dealerships.
Thinking they’d be next, Hindash said a security company was hired that would have an armed security guard starting on Friday.
He said for this happen the day before was “just disheartening.”
Hindash said he would have thought the thieves would have targeted vehicles in the back, but instead they picked vehicles in the front of the lot facing San Pedro.
But being that the thieves were there around 2:30 or 3 in the morning, he said there’s very little traffic on San Pedro at that hour.
“All the right circumstances came together for the thieves this time, unfortunately,” Hindash said. “They went undetected. No one noticed them.”
He said they’re hard to see beneath the vehicles where it only takes a few minutes to remove a catalytic converter, then move on to the next one.
Hindash said SAPD has surveillance video of two men in the dealership lot that he hopes will yield some clues.
To compound the situation, Hindash said replacement catalytic converters are on back order, up to 60 days.
He said he checked the Mitsubishi parts distribution network.
“There’s 2,000 other catalytic converters ahead of ours,” he said.
Not only that, he said the worldwide shortage of semiconductors has severely impacted new vehicle production and vehicle inventory overall.
He said being that he has the nation’s number one Mitsubishi dealership, he has about a two-month inventory still on the lot.
Hindash said he believes it doesn’t help that there are unscrupulous scrap metal dealers who buy stolen catalytic converters for the precious metals inside each one.
“You would have to know if you’re in the business of buying scrap metal and you get someone that walks in with 40 or 50 or 60 catalytic converters,” Hindash said. “You’d have to question where did those come from?”
Hindash has a warning for owners who leave their vehicles outdoors.
“Every car that has a catalytic converter provided, it has a little bit of clearance from the ground up to where they can slide underneath, and cut it out,” he said. “It’s a target. Every car is a target out there.”