It's something like $1500 fine if you get caught with cat removed. They used to have monitoring booth coming down Grapevine that detects your exhaust when you drive by. Anything too high and they chase you down for closer look. Busted huge amount of those slammed ricerboy cars and sport bikes.
I used to have shoppe down the road and would go up Grapevine to go home and entire shoulder on other side would be packed full of cars getting pulled over. It's like those sobriety checkpoints, no one gets around it!
It's really necessary evil since smog was extremely bad in L.A. basin back in '80s. I remember radio would announce "smog days" warning people to stay indoors when the pollution was so bad it would burn your eyes and make you cough! You can see clear skies over LA and actually breathe now!