By Salvador Ponce
Special to the Glendale News-Press
Catalytic converter thefts account for approximately 60% of the reports the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station receives on a daily basis. The thefts of these costly parts are on the rise nationwide.
Every modern internal combustion engine comes with one or more catalytic converters. This piece of equipment is part of your exhaust system between the engine and the muffler. It reduces the harmful emissions from your gas or diesel engine into the atmosphere.
Like burglaries, catalytic converter thefts are a crime of opportunity. It has been the department’s experience that criminals target vehicles that give them a good return for the stolen item. The Toyota Prius is one of the most targeted vehicles. Based on interviews conducted with numerous suspects arrested for these thefts, the going rate for a Toyota Prius catalytic converter is approximately $1,100 on the black market. Approximately 70% of the catalytic converters stolen in our area are from a Toyota Prius; however, other vehicles have been targeted as well.
Here are a few tips to prevent you from becoming a victim of catalytic converter theft:
• Install a catalytic converter plate. Because of the high volume of catalytic converters that get stolen, auto parts manufacturers have produced a plate cover or cage that goes over the catalytic converter, making it extremely difficult to steal it. Because suspects want to be in and out as fast as possible, they will likely move on to another vehicle if they see there is a cage protecting the catalytic converter. An auto mechanic can install the anti-theft part.
• Etching the catalytic converter. Although this may not prevent you from becoming a victim of the theft, it will help law enforcement prosecute criminals. There are instances where law enforcement officers catch suspects with multiple cut catalytic converters. If the catalytic converter is etched, we can quickly identify the victim and prosecute the suspect.
• Park in a well-lit area and install quality cameras. Like having quality lighting and surveillance cameras on your home, this applies to your vehicle as well. Criminals prefer to work in dark areas without cameras. If you have lights and cameras, the criminal may look for an target vehicle. By using as many of these tips as possible, you will reduce your chances of your catalytic converter being stolen.
Ponce is a 21-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He has been assigned to Crescenta Valley Station Detective Bureau for the last year and specializes in burglaries and catalytic converter thefts.
First published in the April 1 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.