The Torrance Police Department arrested three suspects after they crashed a stolen care into a retaining wall near Carson Street and Merrill Drive in Torrance. The suspects are believed to have stolen the Nissan Sentra at gunpoint from a woman in the Torrance Target parking lot, less than a mile from the scene of the crash.
Officers briefly pursued the vehicle before it crashed and ignited, prompting the evacuation of an adjacent apartment building. The officers were able to extinguish the fire and took the three occupants of the vehicle into custody. It is unclear if any of the suspects were injured, but it is believed one individual suffered a broken leg during the apartment evacuation.
Theft involving cars has been on the rise in California since 2011, but it is auto accesory theft that is increasing rapidly in Southern California. The highway system in Southern California gives thieves easy access to coastal cities, neighboring states, and even the U.S.-Mexico border and is used to transport stolen goods such as catalytic converters, third-row seats, radio systems, tires, and car batteries. Auto parts are virtually untraceable once they've been stolen from a car, making it extremely difficult to determine where or who they were stolen from.
Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties are consistently among the top 25 metropolitan areas for car thefts. It is estimated 88,000 cars, trucks or motorcycles are stolen from the four counties combined each year.
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