The catalytic converter may not be the most well-known part of a car, but it is one of the most valuable. A catalytic converter is an emission control device that contains traces of precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and palladium. Criminals target trucks and sport utility vehicles for this type of theft due to the vehicle’s height which allows easier access to the undercarriage. The precious metals can be sold for quick cash.
During the past few weeks, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) has experienced a spike in catalytic converter thefts within the city limits as well as in adjacent neighborhoods. The thefts are taking place during the early morning hours; targeting vehicles parked curbside. It takes less than five minutes for a criminal to remove the component using a battery operated power saw.
To combat this recent rash of thefts, SMPD has set up a catalytic converter etching program; etching a converter with your license plate number will help police track the converter in the event it is stolen and recovered.
The free Etch and Catch event will be open to all Santa Monica residents and all vehicle types on Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 6 to 8 pm at Firestone Complete Auto Care.
Commercial, anti-theft devices are available in auto part stores that help prevent removal. Citizens are also encouraged to park their vehicles in well-lit driveways, carports or garages and/or to install motion detection lighting in areas where cars are parked overnight.
Firestone Complete Auto Care is located at 1817 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica.
Anyone with information regarding these thefts is urged to contact the Santa Monica Police Department’s non-emergency number at 310.458.8491or to dial 911 if witnessing a crime in progress or suspicious activity