Catalytic converter thefts soar – NBC 7 San Diego


It’s a crime that only takes a few minutes to complete, but can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs: Thieves cut off the catalytic converters of vehicles parked on streets and driveways, trying to cash in valuable materials. found inside.

“Only the precious metals in the catalytic converter are worth about $ 30,000 an ounce,” said Dale Snow, parts and service manager at Mossy Toyota in Pacific Beach.

With an increase in the theft of catalytic converters, more and more San Diegans are unable to drive

Toyota Priuses are a prime target for thieves, as these precious metals like platinum and rhodium burn more slowly in a Prius, which means more is left inside to break and resell. It’s a quick crime: Snow said thieves can take down a car in under three minutes.

“Unfortunately, over the last four to five months we’ve seen a huge influx of it,” Snow said, showing NBC 7 a vehicle with a stolen catalytic converter. “It’s our fifth today…. We’re probably taking 15-20 a week. This is big! It’s sad!”

Snow said thefts have become so common that repair shops are struggling to get spare parts in a timely manner, which means drivers can take weeks to get new ones.

NBC7 Investigates pulled police records from across San Diego County and found that from 2019 to 2020, the number of catalytic converter thefts increased by 150%. This is more than double the thefts from year to year.

According to police records, the 2100 block of Del Mar Heights Road has been the target of thieves three times since last September – most of all blocks.

The zip code claiming the most thefts is 92024 in Encinitas, with 64 reported since 2020. National City is next with 49 flights, followed by San Marcos and La Mesa.

Catalytic converters are so easy to steal that thieves don’t even have to work in the dark of the night. Our analysis revealed that the most common time for thieves to steal catalytic converters was around 1:30 p.m.

Protect your vehicle and your money

While NBC7 Investigates has found that many thieves are brazen enough to target vehicles in busy neighborhoods in the middle of the day, the cars most at risk are those parked in isolated areas for long periods of time.

“For the first 10 seconds the car started, everything went well,” said Tres Flook, a professional driver. “When the engine started I thought I was in a Harley Davidson.”

Flook had his catalytic converter stolen twice in the airport parking lots. The second time it happened, he knew before he even started the car.

“I just took a look from a distance under my car and there were two bolts on the ground,” Flook said. “I start it and go.”

Now Flook has a shield under his car that makes it much harder to cut the pipes and steal the catalytic converter. While that doesn’t completely stop thieves, mechanics say a deterrent could simply save consumers the cost of a new catalytic converter.

“If it’s not an easy target, they’ll probably move on to the next car,” said Nick Delaney, master mechanic at Aero Auto.

Delaney said many Prius drivers seek shields to protect their catalytic converters after being hit by thieves.

“You look below and you will see the cut tubes and the missing catalytic converter,” Delaney said.

Theft is covered if you have comprehensive insurance on your policy. Southern California Automobile Club spokesperson Jeffery Spring said that while there is no limit on how many times your policy will cover theft, it will attract attention.

“Insurance companies would start to take a closer look,” Spring said. “It is in the interests of both sides to prevent this from happening. ”

Another risk is that if the cost of replacing a catalytic converter is more than the cash value of your car, an insurance company may decide to declare the car a total loss.

“These repairs can range from $ 3,000 to $ 5,000,” Spring said. “It depends on the number too. Some cars have two catalytic converters.

To protect your car, Spring recommends parking it in a garage if possible. Otherwise, stay in well-lit areas and busier streets. Finally, consider paying for a shield or a cage to install around your catalytic converter.

Flook paid $ 500 for a shield, but said it was worth it if he didn’t have to pay for another replacement.

“If the person really wants to get third on this vehicle, they can,” Flook said. “But it’s going to be a lot harder and there are a lot easier targets out there so they’re probably going to move on.”

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