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'I just lost it on him': Texas man clubs suspect who tried to steal his catalytic converter

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On August 4 at 10 p.m., the motion sensor on Clay Hayner's Ring camera alerted him to movement near his van, parked outside his home in Dallas' Design District. Hayner told Fox 4 that he checked his live security video feed and "saw a guy walking around [his] van and ... starting to move some of the stuff under there." Upon seeing the suspect crawl under his van — despite the deterrents he had installed earlier — Hayner equipped a metal light stand and ran outside to confront the man.

Hayner, a photographer who claims never before to have engaged in a fight, found the suspect allegedly armed with a knife. "He looks at me and he holds up like a knife and I just lost it on him," said Hayner. "My adrenaline was going."

Using the light stand, Hayner clubbed the suspect multiple times. Since the suspect was momentarily stuck under the vehicle, Hayner said he was "able to beat him for a while."

The suspect can be heard on video yelling, "I'm leaving, I'm leaving," before fleeing the scene.

Hayner noted his regret in permitting the suspect to get away, but was otherwise happy with having defended his property. "At least I got a little bit of revenge for all the past stuff that's happened." This was, after all, not the first time someone had come for his catalytic converter. "This is the fourth time they've tried to take it and they've gotten it twice."

In his rush to get away, the suspect — who has not yet been apprehended — left behind his tool bag, which contained wire cutters, masks, saws, gloves, and knives, along with his bike.

CBS reported that catalytic converter thefts in Dallas are up 25% in 2022. The Dallas Police Department indicated that such thefts in 2021 were already four times higher than the previous year.

Nationally, such thefts have skyrocketed over recent years. 1,298 were reported in 2018, 3,389 in 2019, and 14,433 in 2020.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau attributes the spike in catalytic converter thefts, in part, to the value of precious metals. Catalytic converters contain platinum, rhodium, palladium, and gold. According to a March 2022 KITCO appraisal, rhodium was valued at $20,000 per ounce; palladium at $2,938 per ounce; and platinum at $1,128 per ounce.

To replace this critical component of a vehicle's emissions system could cost between $300 and $2,500, not including the labor cost of installation.

While Hayner successfully chased away the suspect who allegedly sought to remove his catalytic converter, not all confrontations end in the victim's favor.

On August 8, a 54-year-old Chicago man was shot twice after trying to prevent thieves from taking his catalytic converter in West Rogers Park. On August 2, Sergio Maas was allegedly gunned down in Dallas by Isabel Campbell after intervening in a similar theft. A 23-year-old man who confronted such thieves was shot on March 20 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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