The Silicon Valley Voice

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Joe and Arlene Ramirez, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

It’s just another crime statistic in the paper or on Nextdoor—until it happens to you. Like it happened to Joe and Arlene Ramirez in the quiet, residential Santa Clara neighborhood where they have lived since 1979. Despite their taking all the right precautions.

The crime was recorded on the Ring camera attached to the garage of their single-story home. At 4 a.m. on March 26, a dark gray car with two occupants pulled up in front of their house.

One waited in the car. The other walked backwards up their driveway (to avoid facing the camera) towards the white, 2020 Toyota Tacoma pickup parked there. He quickly cut out the catalytic converter from the underside of the truck. Mere minutes later, the pair drove off.


When the Ramirezes got up at 6 a.m., they saw Ring alerts on their mobile phones and went outside to check the truck, fitted with a steering wheel lock. They were relieved that nothing seemed amiss—no broken windows or other forced entry.

“We thought that was the end of the story, but it was only the beginning,” said Joe, sharing the tale with neighbors walking by on a cloudy afternoon.

When he went back outside at 7 a.m. and got in the car, it was a different story.

“I started the car and as soon as I heard it, I knew what it was,” said Joe.

“It sounded like a motorboat,” said Arlene.

The police came, and the Ramirezes filed a report. They notified their insurance company and took the truck in for repair—about $3,000 parts and labor to replace the catalytic converter. Part of a gas vehicle’s exhaust system is valuable for the precious metals it is made of.

The following night, March 27, the catalytic converter was stolen from the vehicle of a neighbor on the next street.

“Despite your best efforts, you can’t always stop things from happening,” said Joe Ramirez, a semi-retired property manager and realtor with Reality World. He considers the area where they live—Forest Park—to be one Santa Clara’s top residential areas. “I don’t know if there’s anything more we could do to have stopped the theft.”

“We think we live in a nice, safe neighborhood, so this is just devasting,” said Arlene Ramirez. “We feel violated, vulnerable.”

“It’s the world we live in now,” said Joe. “It could be a lot worse.”

As a matter of fact, a month earlier—on February 24, a neighbor’s red, 2005 Chevy Silverado pickup was broken into and stolen at 3:40 a.m. while parked on the street beside their house.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a column where we casually interview people we meet in Silicon Valley. The Won’t You Be My Neighbor column hopes to highlight what makes Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and the rest of the South Bay special — the people who live, work and play here.

Related Posts:
Sunnyvale Man Shot Trying To Stop Catalytic Converter Theft
Catalytic Converter Thieves Feel New Legal Pressure


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