Catalytic converter thieves have returned to the Santa Clarita Valley after plumbers on opposite ends of the SCV reported having their trucks butchered by thieves snipping and stealing the emission-control devices.
Plumbers with Detour Plumbing, near Centre Pointe Parkway and Golden Valley Road, showed up for work Thursday morning only to discover thieves had crawled under one of the plumbing trucks and removed the catalytic converter.
A week ago, thieves seeking to sell the valuable metals contained in the converters did the same thing to plumbers in Canyon Country.
“I doubt I’m going to get it back,” said the manager of Yochim Plumbing, on Sierra Highway, who identified himself only as Mark.
“I’m devastated by this,” he said. “We’re a small business, so it kind of hit us hard.”
Mark said he’s looking at spending about $1,500 to replace the parts.
Both plumbers notified detectives with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
“It’s on both sides of the valley, in the west end and the east end,” said Lt. Ignacio Somoano, head of the SCV Sheriff’s Detective Bureau, referring to the recent trend.
“Somebody comes here from who knows where, does their thievery throughout the night and takes off,” he said.
Catalytic converter thefts have historically happened in waves about once every year.
Somoano said thieves target trucks over cars because the “clearance” from the ground is greater with trucks, making it easier for thieves to get under the vehicle and snip the converter.
“Parking vehicles in garages or driveways is always better,” Somoano said. “Having lights and (surveillance) cameras is also a good idea.”
In July 2018, local sheriff’s detectives reported an increase in the number of catalytic converters stolen from cars in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The most-favored vehicles then were the Toyota Prius, and particularly models made between 2005 and 2009.
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 emission-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.