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Santa Monica Sees Rash of Thefts of Catalytic Converters from Cars
By Niki Cervantes
May 16, 2018 -- Santa Monica police Tuesday reported a new rash of thefts of catalytic converts from cars, the favored target this time being the popular Toyota Prius.
Over the last few weeks, at least seven catalytic converters -- anti-smog devices -- have been stolen in Santa Monica, police said in the warning posted on the Santa Monica Police Department’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/santamonicapd).
The latest target has been the Toyota Prius, police said, but all vehicles made after 1975 are required by California law to have a “cat” converter.
To prevent catalytic converter theft, police advice the public to follow the following tips:
* Always park in well-lit areas or within your garage if possible.
* Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a couple of pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame.
* Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online.
Call 9-1-1 for a crime in progress or 310-458-8491 for the department's non-emergency dispatch to report a crime after the fact, police said.
Most drivers don’t give a second thought to the catalytic converters in their vehicles. It’s a part that requires no regular maintenance and rarely needs replacing.
Catalytic converters, which are attached to mufflers, turn toxic exhaust gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into less harmful emissions.
But they also contain traces of precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and palladium, which have been skyrocketing in value. Hence, their value to thieves.
They then sell them to scrap yards for anywhere from $100 to more than $150-plus. Replacing them can cost as much as a $1,000.
The Los Angeles Police Department arrested a ring of cat-converter thieves last year. An undercover task force had been following their activities after noticing a spike of such thefts in West L.A.
Two auto parts recycling businesses were sued by the Los Angeles City Attorney.
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