PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence man is recovering from injuries after he stopped several suspects from trying to steal the catalytic converter from his car — all while he was inside it.
Francisco Medrano tells 12 News he was having trouble sleeping, so he drove down the street to get some fast food early Saturday morning. Medrano said he came back and was eating in his driveway when he heard a car pull up behind him outside of his Standish Avenue home.
“I hear a grinding noise and I look out and I look in the passenger mirror, and I just see two legs under my car, and I just jumped out,” Medrano recalled.
The legs belonged to a suspect who he later learned was trying to steal the catalytic converter from under his Jeep Grand Cherokee. He said it’s unfortunately not the first time he’s been a victim of catalytic converter theft.
“I’ve always wondered what would happen if I caught somebody in the act, and I guess it happened,” he said.
Medrano has a surveillance camera on the side of his home, which captured the entire ordeal. When he got out of his car to confront what he originally thought was one thief, he encountered several suspects.
The confrontation quickly turned violent when the suspects started attacking Medrano.
“Somebody stabbed me in the face with a Sawzall. I ended up pulling the saw out from the guy. Somebody in the back was hitting me with a pipe,” Medrano said, pointing out staples on the back of his head.
The 36-year-old was still wearing his hospital bracelet from Saturday, with visible scars on his arms and face from the incident.
Police said when they took Medrano’s report early Saturday morning, they observed these injuries and transported him to Rhode Island Hospital for further treatment.
Medrano said he wasn’t armed, but his two dogs were with him and tried to go after the suspects, who eventually gave up and took off. He believes there were four suspects.
Police said Medrano advised that there were three Hispanic men and described two of them to be wearing a full-face masks. The fourth man was not wearing a mask.
Medrano said he was surprised that something like this happened while he was sitting in his car, but he believes the suspects were equally as surprised.
The car part can go for hundreds of dollars in scrap yards, and the cost to replace them can be even higher for car owners.
“I just hope that all this stops. People are being real petty,” Medrano said. “Either I or they could have lost their life over something so petty.”
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
In March, Rep. Joe Solomon introduced legislation to tighten restrictions on scrap metal businesses that buy converters.
“It’s a recurring issue and we need to do more to stop it,” he said. “It makes you wonder … at some point, is someone going to get killed because their catalytic converter is getting stolen?”
If passed, Solomon’s bill would add to the regulations placed on businesses last year, in an effort to further crack down on the market to buy stolen converters.
Target 12 reported last fall more than 1,400 converter thefts were reported in the first three-quarters of 2022 alone, according to police departments across Rhode Island.
Solomon tells 12 News his bill was held for further study, but he expects it to be voted on within the next couple of weeks.