Berkeley man shot at by catalytic converter thief after trying to stop him
BERKELEY, Calif. - A Berkeley man said he wasn't thinking about the 60-year-old Oakland general contractor who was killed this week when he confronted catalytic converter from his Glenview neighborhood when a similar theft happened to him.
The man, who asked to be identified only as Joe, said he saw thieves trying to steal his catalytic converter, too, on Thursday in the north Berkeley Hills about 6 a.m.
He said he couldn't just stand by and do nothing when he was awakened by the sounds of sawing and spotted two men. One was standing guard while the second was underneath a neighbor's red Prius, trying to saw off the catalytic converter.
It was instinctive, Joe said, to do something. Joe said when he went to confront the thieves himself, they fired two shots at him. He was lucky to dodge the bullets.
"I stood behind the tree and yelled at these guys, get the hell out of here," Joe said.
But his yelling didn't scare them away.
So he picked up a rock and threw it at them.
He described his reaction as instinctive and was in part driven by his own loss.
Joe said just a few days ago, his truck was recovered after being stolen. It was stripped and $20,000 worth of expensive tools he uses for his work as a contractor was gone.
So when he wasn't able to stop the thieves even after throwing the rock, called 911 and made another attempt to scare them off.
"So I took this propane tank and I threw it right out there in the street," Joe said.
The propane tank startled the thieves, but it didn't hit them.
After one of them fired shots at Joe, they drove off.
Joe was not injured.
Berkeley police are thankful no one was hurt or killed, unlike what happened to 60-year-old Arturo Coronado, who tried to stop catalytic converter thieves in Oakland on Monday and was killed in the process.
"That's the biggest takeaway from this, that he's OK," Berkeley Police Officer Jessica Perry, adding it's great to be a good witness but not safe to take on suspects themselves. "We don't ever want somebody to put themselves in the middle of a situation."
Joe said he was always a good distance away from the thieves but has mixed feelings about what he did.
"I don't recommend it at all. My wife needs me. My kids need me. It's not worth my life," said Joe. "I feel it's important to stand up. Stand up to crime. Stand up to what's wrong."
He said the thieves fled the scene in a dark gray Audi Q5 or Q7 SUV with no front plate. They did not get away with the catalytic converter. They have yet to be located or arrested.
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