Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise

LAPD Pacific say they have noticed a recent rise in thefts of catalytic converters.

On Tuesday Venice resident Danielle Sager went to her office at 616 Venice Blvd to pick up her Honda Element. She had left the car in her office parking lot overnight “the lot is well lit, I thought my car would be safe” she said.

However, when she started the engine “the car sounded like a Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was so loud, I knew something was wrong.” she said.

Sager remembered reading online that Honda Elements in particular, where often targets of catalytic converter theft “I just had a feeling, I looked under the car and saw bolts on the ground and the muffler pipe had a perfect cut right through it. My mechanic said the thieves had done a very clean, professional job”

Thieves can make around $300 for each catalytic converter they steal. The car part is in demand as scrap metal due to the high content ratio of palladium, rhodium and platinum contained within. However the cost of replacing the part, at anywhere between $1700 to $3000, can make it 10 times more expensive than the amount  thieves can pocket.

Sager is grateful her insurance will cover replacing the part as well as covering the cost of a rental until her car is back on the road “I’m grateful I got the good insurance” she said.

In the long run Sager is weighing up her options “I’ve heard you can buy locks to protect your catalytic converter but my mechanic did say this can mean thieves could do more damage to a car if they tried to break through the lock so I don’t know. I like my car but may be I need to get a different car.”

Honda Elements have be targets across Los Angeles because their high undercarriage is easy to access. Other popular models targeted by converter thieves include the Chevy Cavalier, Pontiac Sunfire and Toyota Sequoia.

Officials advise people to park in a well-lit area, get a vehicle identification number etched on the catalytic converter and install a motion sensor or “cat clamp” on it.


Trial of Venice Boardwalk Rampage suspect Nathan Louis Campbell begins

Nathan Louis Campbell.
Nathan Louis Campbell.

A Colorado man drove over a curb and intentionally steered his car along the Venice boardwalk that he knew was packed with summer crowds in August 2013, killing an honeymooning Italian woman and injuring a dozen other people, a prosecutor told a jury Thursday.

Defense attorney James P. Cooper III conceded to the seven-woman, five-man jury that Nathan Louis Campbell “did drive down the boardwalk,” but he insisted the evidence would show his client was “actually avoiding hitting a number of pedestrians.”

Campbell, 39, is charged with one count of murder for the Aug. 3, 2013, death of 32-year-old Alice Gruppioni, along with 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 10 counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told jurors that Campbell was angry because he believed a drug dealer had cheated his friend — with one witness expected to testify that Campbell had threatened to run the dealer over. Instead, Campbell struck Gruppioni and 17 other people, with the Italian woman “on the hood of his car for over 300 feet” before her body slid off, the prosecutor said.

Campbell had “full knowledge” of how crowded Venice’s Ocean Front Walk was because surveillance footage showed him walking on the popular tourist destination earlier, the deputy district attorney said.

Witnesses are expected to testify that Campbell never honked the horn of his 2008 blue Dodge Avenger, never stopped his vehicle and never tried to render aid, according to the prosecutor.

“People are avoiding the vehicle,” Avila said. “It’s not the vehicle avoiding people. … A lot more people could have died had they not jumped out of the way.”

Campbell walked into the Santa Monica Police Department a few hours later and said, “I’m the one you’re looking for. I’m the one who hit all those people,” the prosecutor said.

A blood test performed at 2:26 a.m. — hours after the car careened down the boardwalk — showed Campbell’s blood-alcohol content at 0.09, just over the legal limit, Avila said.

Cooper, however, told jurors that the evidence will show his client was not a party to the drug transaction. He acknowledged that Campbell drove onto the boardwalk — although he did not explain why — but said the car struck several objects before hitting any people.

“He did avoid hitting many more people by taking that S-like route down the boardwalk,” the defense attorney said.

Campbell’s attorney said he will ask jurors to acquit his client of murder.

Testimony is expected to begin Friday morning.


Final Days To See Chad Hasegawa’s “The Beach” exhibit at C.A.V.E. Gallery

By Mariella Rudi

The Center for Audio and Visual Engagement, or C.A.V.E. Gallery, is a clean-walled gallery in Venice known for its Pop Art, photos, and audio installations by up-and-coming artists.

Focused on introducing and supporting cutting-edge art that is both new and engaging, C.A.V.E.’s latest exhibition of Chad Hasegawa’s “The Beach” is on display now until Monday, May 4.

The collection features variegated paintings of a familiar California idol: the brown bear.

Though Hasegawa draws the eyes, snout, and mouth realistically, his bear’s body and fur is made up of brick-like shapes that create a mosaic image of the beautiful brown bear.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hasegawa moved to San Francisco in 2000 to join the city’s kinetic graffiti scene.

There, he quickly gained recognition for his bold and colorful latex paint brush strokes that pushed the boundaries of public art.

Check out Hasegawa’s iconic brown bears at the gallery, located at 1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd. It is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 pm to 6 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm.

Describe your motif of the brown bear.

It’s something I am able paint and that really express my style. It’s also something I paint for people to enjoy. Most of my paintings are female bears because the females are the ones who are fierce and protective over their young.

Why is your collection called, “The Beach?”

I have an aunt who really loves the beach, and I remember her family taking me there when I was younger all the time. So I named the show after my family, who all love going to the beach. The colors reminded me of their house, as well.

How have street art and the Mission School art movement influenced your style as an artist?

Lot of folks in the Mission School used house paint from the same house paint that I use. I like to think that we all get our paint from our same secret spots. This started when I saw Margaret Kilgallen using house paint in a couple videos and photos. I figured that if she’s good with using it I could use it, too. She use to write “Meta” on walls and her pieces would really stand out because she used house paint instead of spray paint. It’s kind of funny because I used to try to keep it a secret, and then I found out almost everybody uses the same type of paint. But that also might mean that the Mission School influences us all.

What are the pervasive themes or patterns in the exhibit?

I call it “abstract caves,” but it’s called “Pukas,” and it’s the Hawaiian word for “hole.” That is something in almost all my pieces I have ever painted. I almost want the “Pukas” to be my signature or something that will let you know it’s my painting. I also use it as a symbol of my home [Honolulu].

What is your painting technique for these bears?

Piles of bricks as layers of paint and color. Over and over.

Lastly, what can people take away from your show at C.A.V.E.?

I just want people to have a good time looking at paintings. Hopefully it’ll have a similar feeling of going to the beach: simple.

Venice Design Series Continues Saturday With Coastal Canyon Literary Tour

The first Venice Design Series kicked off April 25 and continues this Saturday, May 2, with a Hollywood-inspired Coastal Canyon Literary Tour and Lunch.

Spearheaded by noted landscape designer Jay Griffith and community activist Linda Lucks, the handpicked, site-specific special events are hosted by Venice’s visionary architects, chefs, designers, authors and performers, an example of the Venice creative community rallying to support Venice Community Housing (VCH) with five design inspired fundraising events.

At a time when many experience ongoing economic distress, the Venice Design Series is an example of a community looking after its own.

As Jay Griffith so aptly puts it, “When I look around Venice today, I see a huge loss of socio-economic diversity. By supporting Venice Community Housing, we are ensuring keeping the nice, in Venice.”

The Venice Design Series opened with a kick-off party April 25 at the restored Spanish Colonial Pacific Palisades home of landscape designer Jay Griffith, once owned by actor Eddie Albert and his wife Margo.

This Saturday morning, May 2, Jay Griffith leads a Hollywood-inspired Coastal Canyon Literary Tour and Lunch through Santa Monica and Rustic Canyons and including historic homes on Adelaide Drive.

Destinations include the Eames Case Study House (pictured above) and El Encanto, a three acre early California estate and the Benenson House, designed by architect Steven Ehrlich. Mona Simpson will read from her book “My Hollywood” at her home, the historic 1909 Henry Weaver House. Chef Fiona Neale will prepare lunch with musical accompaniment by pianist Daniel Kloehn and readings by actress Catherine Keener and Marlene Dietrich’s great-grandson, Adam Riva.

Award winning architect Steven Ehrlich and author Nancy Griffin host the third event, a North African Feast on Saturday evening, May 2. Visitors will enjoy a dinner prepared by Chef Farid Zadi featuring paella at Ehrlich’s self-designed Venice home. KCRW’s Frances Anderton, host of the popular DnA radio program, will lead a conversation with special guests about “Venice Architecture: Past and Future.”

A Moveable Feast dinner party on Saturday, May 9 will stop at the Venice homes of international architect Kulapat Yantrasast, principal of wHY, realtor Tiffany Rochelle, and restaurateur Paul Hibler. Each home will feature courses provided by Hibler’s Superba restaurants. A salon-discussion on creativity will pair local architects and chefs.

The fifth and final event in the series is a Mother’s Day Jazz Brunch at architect Gregory Ain’s Historic Mid-Century Homes on Sunday, May 10. Featuring music from Azar Lawrence & Trio and catered by Gjelina, this event is hosted by residents in Ain’s “Modernique Homes” tract in Mar Vista, the first post WWII Historic District designated in Los Angeles. Guests will tour six homes in the tract and receive a copy of Anthony Denzer’s “Gregory Ain: The Modern Home as Social Commentary.”

For tickets or more information on the Venice Design Series, visit, email Linda Lucks at, or call 310.526.3857.

Meet James Currie Tonight at G2 Gallery

The G2 Gallery is proud to welcome internationally renowned birder, television host and author James Currie for an intimate gathering and discussion of his new book “When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer.”  Books will be available for purchase and an author signing will follow. There will be complimentary light refreshments, wine and valet.

Tonight: Thursday, April 30th, 2015
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Space is limited. Please RSVP to or 310.452.2842

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