Thieves remove catalytic converters from two parked cars in Claremont

Toyota Sequoia owners beware, thieves are targeting your vehicle. Two separate incidents of vehicle tampering occurred last week with thieves removing the catalytic converters from cars parked in Claremont.

According to Lieutenant Mike Ciszek, a 2003 white Toyota Sequoia was tampered with while parked at Chaparral Elementary School on Thursday, January 15 between 8 and 11:30 a.m. The thieves used an unknown tool to remove both emissions-control devices from the victim’s vehicle and fled the scene undetected.

Another theft was reported shortly thereafter when a Claremont resident discovered his Toyota Sequoia had also been targeted. The owner had parked his 2004 model in the driveway of the residence on the 1500 block of N. Mills Avenue, when thieves made off with two catalytic converters. The vehicle alarm was not activated and the victim noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

A catalytic converter can cost up to $4,400 to replace on the Toyota Sequoia and contains precious metals that act as catalysts. When hot, exhaust enters the converter and a chemical reaction occurs that renders toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, into less harmful emissions.

With the price of precious metals skyrocketing, thieves are helping themselves to catalytic converters that contain enough platinum, palladium or rhodium to make it worth the risk to cut it from the underbelly of your vehicle. Stolen catalytic converters are sold to scrap yards for around $100 to $150.

According to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as trucks, pick-ups and SUVs, are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle to gain access to the converter. With just a few cuts of a battery-powered saw, the catalytic converter can be stolen in less than a minute

To prevent catalytic converter theft, use common sense and follow these tips:

  • Always park in well-lighted areas
  • At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic
  • If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night
  • Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable
  • Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with just the slightest motion
  • 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

Check Friday’s edition of the COURIER for this and other stories in the Police Blotter.

—Angela Bailey


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