L.A. Councilwoman Blames Toyota for Catalytic-Converter Theft, Opposes Motion Targeting Thieves

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Rather than vote in favor of a motion banning the unlawful possession of catalytic converters — a valuable automotive part — Nithya Raman, a Los Angeles councilwoman, voted against the measure and blamed car manufacturers for making the part too easy to steal.

“In this case, I think one of the things that infuriates me, is that we have a company — whatever, Toyota — who makes the Prius, that essentially has a device on their cars which is super easy to remove. It’s basically the value of a MacBook, right?” the Democratic lawmaker said.

“That is put in a place that is incredibly easy to access in your car and the thefts related to this issue have essentially — all of the costs of that — are given to us to bear instead of them [Toyota] having to manufacture a car that actually is not so easy to be stolen,” the Harvard-educated Raman added.

The motion, which passed by a vote of 8-to-4 last Tuesday, stipulated that nearly 8,000 catalytic converter components had been stolen across Los Angeles in 2022, a 728 percent spike since 2018.

“It’s a crime happening to the constituents in our community that’s hurting people and one that we are allowing, we are failing to act on, if we do not pass this today,” said Councilman John Lee, who introduced the motion.

“This is a common-sense measure that simply provides law enforcement with an additional tool that will protect our communities from rampant and damaging theft.”

Raman was joined in her opposition by Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez who argued that the motion would “not make our city safer” and that it could have an impact on Latino and Black communities.

“This ordinance is a costly one for the city,” Hernandez added. “It will lead to more cases for the city attorney. It will lead to more money spent on courts and more money spent on public defenders.”

Those opposing the motion insisted that car owners should fabricate cages or use anti-theft devices to protect their cars.

“When somebody gets something stolen, the city should be doing everything we can to make sure they’re made whole — not to punish another person,” Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said.

Raman, a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, first became involved in Los Angeles politics following her advocacy combatting homelessness.

“It’s incredibly important for us to be able to address not just the homelessness crisis but the broader housing crisis of which homelessness is just the most egregious symptom,” Raman said in an interview with the socialist magazine, Jacobin, in 2020.

“It is changing who gets to live here and who doesn’t get to live here. It’s pushing out working people and people of color.”

Raman resigned from her post as an executive of Time’s Up Entertainment, a sexual assault awareness organization dedicated to the film and media industry, to run for office, which she entered in December 2020.

“Instead of responding to it with work, with urgency, with focus, on actually addressing the issue, we say, ‘Oh, we’ll just ban it. We’ll just ban it and it’ll be the end of it,'” Raman added during the community meeting explaining her opposition to the motion.

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