Catalytic converter theft continues to be a problem facing car owners across the state, especially in Southern California.
Replacing a catalytic converter comes at a very high expense for the victims of this crime -- for example, the typical Prius owner could spend $3,500 to fix it. Authorities have developed strategies to avoid or reduce this type of theft among car owners.
One strategy is to engrave serial numbers on catalytic converters.
Catalytic converters would be engraved with a unique identification number that would act as a deterrent against theft, since the thief could be tracked.
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"We recommend that you buy one of those electric markers and with one of those markers you can write the VIN number on the converter,” Officer Lilian Shaw of the Sierra Madre Police Department explained.
This will also provide authorities with valuable information if it is stolen and later located by law enforcement.
"The VIN number helps police departments identify the owner of the converters,” Shaw said.
An expensive piece
This vehicle part has become the center of an epidemic of thefts across the country. According to Officer Shaw, the thieves sell it for about $300 but the victims end up paying up to $3,000 to replace it.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau operations, intelligence, and analysis study on reported thefts, nationwide there were 108 thefts of catalytic converters per month on average in 2018, 282 thefts per month on average in 2019, and 1,203 thefts on average per month in 2020.
"This problem has increased and those robberies take from one minute to three minutes. They're fast," Shaw said. "It is a national problem that affects us all."
Tips to prevent theft of catalytic converters
Authorities advise car owners to follow these recommendations to avoid catalytic converter theft:
- Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device. These are available from various manufacturers and can provide a level of security against theft.
- Park cars in a garage, if possible. If cars are going to be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. Lights that come on when someone approaches can make some thieves think twice about working with the light, causing them to leave the area and your car untouched.
- If your converter is stolen, call your local police and insurance company.
If you want your vehicle's VIN number etched into the catalytic converter, you can go to your local police station to inquire about its program.
You can also attend one of these events taking place during the month of March in the San Gabriel Valley:
San Dimas City Council: March 12 - 9 a.m. To register for this event, click here.
La Cañada High School: March 26 - 9 a.m. To register for this event, click here.