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Santa Monica Sees Rash of Thefts of Catalytic Converters from Cars


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

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 (

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.

Cat converter theft seems to come in waves in Santa Monica -- one was publicized in 2015 -- and throughout the state ("Santa Monica Police Warn of Smog Device Thefts," March 2, 2015)..

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.

* At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or where there’s a lot of traffic.

* 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.

Armed with a battery operated power saw, a thief can cut out a catalytic converter from under a vehicle within minutes, police said.

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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