Local sheriff’s detectives are reporting an increase in the number catalytic converters stolen from cars in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The most-favored car targeted by thieves, they say, is the Toyota Prius, and particularly models made between 2005-09.
Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station reported the trend Thursday.
The recent rash of thefts sparked a probe by Sgt. Steve Sgrignoli and his team of burglary detectives that is ongoing.
Reports of the stolen car parts have come from all across the SCV with almost all of the thefts occurring at night, Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
“If anyone sees someone tampering with a vehicle, they should call us immediately,” she said. “If a catalytic converter is stolen, it can be a very costly part to replace.
“You may not be able to tell yours has been stolen by looking at your car, but you will know as soon as you try to start it up due to an extremely loud sound that you will hear.”
Over the last seven years, deputies have witnessed other sudden jumps in catalytic converter thefts, with trends reported in 2011 and 2015.
In July 2011, deputies responded to at least 15 reports of thieves stealing catalytic convertors that month from the exhaust system of vehicles by crushing the connecting pipes first, then snipping the connector.
Then in 2015, at least 29 catalytic converters were reported stolen between April 2014 and April 2015, according to the deputies and weekly “Sheriff’s Zone” reports prepared by deputies assigned to monitor eight Santa Clarita Valley communities.
A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device, in front of the vehicle’s muffler, that converts toxic pollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic pollutants.
There are three types of metals that help the catalytic converter remove toxins from the vehicles’ emissions: platinum, palladium and rhodium. It’s the tiny amounts of these valuable metals inside the catalytic converter that makes them so valuable.
The SCV Sheriff’s Station listed a number of recommendations in response to the lastest rash of catalytic converters, including:
- Always park in well-lit areas and when you are at shopping centers try to park close to the entrances of buildings if possible, where there are a lot of people walking by.
- When at home, store your vehicle in the garage if you are able to do so.