It’s a transgression that lone takes a mates of minutes to propulsion disconnected but tin permission you holding the measure for thousands of dollars successful repairs: Thieves are cutting catalytic converters from vehicles parked connected streets and successful driveways, looking to currency successful connected the invaluable materials recovered inside.
“Just the precious metals that are successful the catalytic converter are worthy astir $30,000 an ounce,” said Dale Snow, the parts and work manager astatine Mossy Toyota successful Pacific Beach.
Toyota Priuses are a large people for thieves due to the fact that those pricey precious metals similar platinum and rhodium pain much dilatory successful a Prius, meaning there’s much of them near wrong to interruption disconnected and resell. It’s a speedy crime: Snow said thieves tin instrumentality portion a car of 1 successful little than 3 minutes.
“Unfortunately for the past 4 to 5 months, we’ve seen a immense influx of these,” Snow said portion showing NBC 7 a conveyance with a stolen catalytic converter. “This is our 5th 1 today…. We’re astir apt taking successful 15 to 20 a week. It’s big! It’s sad!”
Snow said the thefts person go truthful commonplace that repair shops are having occupation getting replacement parts successful a timely manner, meaning it tin instrumentality weeks for drivers to get a caller one.
NBC7 Investigates pulled constabulary records from each implicit San Diego County and recovered that from 2019 to 2020, the fig of catalytic converter thefts spiked by 150%. That’s much than treble the thefts conscionable year-to-year.
According to the constabulary records, the 2100 artifact of Del Mar Heights Road has been targeted by thieves 3 times since past September -- the astir of immoderate block.
The ZIP codification claiming the highest fig of thefts is 92024 successful Encinitas, with 64 reported since 2020. National City is adjacent with 49 thefts, past San Marcos and La Mesa.
Catalytic converters are truthful casual to steal, thieves don’t adjacent person to enactment successful the acheronian of the night. Our investigation recovered the astir communal clip for thieves to bargain catalytic converters was astir 1:30 successful the afternoon.
Protecting your conveyance & money
While NBC7 Investigates recovered galore thieves are brazen capable to people vehicles successful engaged neighborhoods successful the mediate of the day, the cars astir astatine hazard are those parked successful isolated areas for agelong periods of time.
“For the archetypal 10 seconds that the car started it was fine,” said Tres Flook, a commercialized pilot. “When the motor kicked in, though, I thought I was successful a Harley Davidson.”
Flook has had his catalytic converter stolen doubly from airdrome parking garages. The 2nd clip it happened, helium knew earlier adjacent starting the car.
“I conscionable happened to glimpse underneath my car from a region and determination were 2 bolts connected the ground,” Flook said. “I commencement it up and it’s gone.”
Now Flook has a shield underneath his car that makes it overmuch harder to chopped done the pipes and bargain the catalytic converter. While it won’t halt thieves altogether, mechanics accidental a deterrent mightiness conscionable prevention consumers the outgo of a caller catalytic converter.
“If it’s not an casual target, they astir apt are going to spell connected to the adjacent car,” said Nick Delaney, maestro mechanic astatine Aero Auto.
Delaney said a batch of Prius drivers are looking for shields to support their catalytic converters aft being deed by thieves.
“You look nether determination and you’ll spot the tubes chopped and the missing catalytic converter,” Delaney said.
The theft is covered if you person broad security connected your policy. Jeffery Spring, a spokesperson astatine the Automobile Club of Southern California,said that, portion determination isn’t a bounds arsenic to however galore times your argumentation volition screen the theft, it’s going to gully attention.
“Insurance companies would commencement looking a small much closely,” Spring said. “It’s successful some parties’ champion involvement to forestall this from happening.”
Another hazard is that if the outgo of replacing a catalytic converter is higher than the currency worth of your car, an security institution whitethorn determine to state the car a full loss.
“Those repairs tin tally anyplace from $3,000 to $5,000,” Spring said. “It depends connected however many, too. Some cars person 2 catalytic converters.”
To support your car, Spring recommends parking it successful a store if possible. Otherwise, instrumentality to well-lit areas and streets that person much postulation connected them. Finally, see paying for a shield oregon cage to beryllium installed astir your catalytic converter.
Flook paid $500 for a shield but said it’s worthy it if helium doesn’t person to wage for different replacement.
“If the idiosyncratic truly wants to get the 3rd 1 connected that conveyance they can,” Flook said. “But it’s going to beryllium a batch harder and there’s overmuch easier targets retired determination truthful they’ll astir apt determination on.”