What's the one thing you would expect car burglars to steal when they break into your car? The car stereo? A cell phone? That loose change you keep in the ashtray? All these things may be targets, but would you think someone would steal your catalytic converter? Chances are most drivers don't even know where the device is on their automobiles, but crooks do.
Catalytic converters have been required by law on every motor vehicle operated in the United States since 1975. It is a muffler-type device attached to your exhaust system and is located underneath your vehicle.
A catalytic converter reduces the toxicity of emissions from an internal combustion engine. The inner workings of a catalytic converter contains filters that use small amounts of the precious metals, platinum, palladium and rhodium. Those metals are what the crooks are interested in because they can be recycled.
in recent months the City of Chula Vista, as well as the rest of the South Bay, is seeing an increasing number of catalytic converter thefts as the value of these precious metals rise.
Depending on the make of your vehicle, your catalytic converter can be removed in less than two minutes and may require only one wrench. It is not something you would notice until you start your car and hear disntinctly increased engine noise since your exhaust no longer goes through your muffler.
A new catalytic converter costs between $400 and $1,500 and the cost to install and repair a vehicle that needs a new one could be between $1,000 and $3,000.
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
- Try to park in a safe and secure place, where a stranger underneath your vehicle would be instantly suspicious.
- When possible, keep your car in your garage instead of on your driveway or in the street.
- If you have a car alarm, a competent installer can install an additional sensor on the converter to set off your alarm when the thieves attempt to steal it.
- For less than fifty dollars, most automotive repair shops or muffler shops can tack weld the nut and bolt which should prevent most thieves from easily unbolting the assembly.
- Additionally, you can engrave your Driver's License number or vehicle identification number (but NOT your SSN) on your converter. Having this information engraved on your converter would assist in returning the converter to you if it is recovered, and will also assist in the prosecution of the offender.
- If you see someone underneath a parked vehicle, especially late at night, or other times when there are few or no other people around, call 911 and report it immediately.
Police Public Information Office