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Santa Cruz auto shops see rise in catalytic converter thefts in 2023

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV)- Santa Cruz Police say catalytic converter thefts have risen in the past year. From Jan. 2022 to Feb. 1, 2023, a total of 106 catalytic converters were stolen.

Police say the top two vehicles seeing the most thefts in Santa Cruz are the Honda Accord (years 2001-2007) and Toyota Prius (years 2001-2010). Forty-seven of those reported 106 thefts have occurred in the first two months of the year.

Other reported catalytic converter vehicles to include: Dodge - Ram FORD - Econoline, FORD, F250 and Excursion GMC - SierraHONDA - Element & Odyssey HYUNDAI - ElantraMERCURY - Capri SUBARU - Impreza TOYOTA - 4Runner, BTM, Highlander & Tacoma.

AE Motorsports is one of many repair shops in Santa Cruz that sees cars come in for stolen catalytic converters. How often do they see it? 

Manager Noah Glickman says, “About 2 to 5 a week, depending on the week.”

It’s even happened before some can do anything to stop it. 

“I've had customers who have had cars get ready to get an appointment for a catalytic converter shield and they've gotten stolen before they've come in for the appointment,” Glickman said.

Police say thieves target trucks or SUVs because the higher ground makes it easier to get underneath the vehcile because they are attached to the exhaust system underneath a vehicle.

"Thefts of catalytic converters increase each time the cost of scrap metal increases." Catalytic converters expensive precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Santa Cruz Police said they spotted suspects in a older white four-door sedan believed to be involved in catalytic converter thefts Wednesday night. The vehicle sped off and a chase ensued on Highway 17 but the suspects got away.

Police say this crew targets prii' (the plural for prius, I guess? Look it up).

How can this be stopped?

“Most important thing is to obviously get whatever factory recommended shield that they have available for your vehicle, for your car,” Glickman said. “The $500 that you will spend on the shield and installation will still be $2,000 cheaper than a very low emissions hybrid cat.”

Santa Cruz Police also reminds folks to park under lights where people can see your car and calibrate your car alarm to go off if it feels vibration.

These are the tips police give to help prevent these thefts:

  • Prii and Honda owners park their cars in their driveway or garage.
  • Park under lights in areas where passers-by will most easily see your vehicle.
  • Calibrate your car's alarm to set off when it detects vibration
  • If your catalytic converter is a "bolt-on" model, you can have the bolts welded shut and have extra metal welded to the exhaust system.
  • Install a catalytic converter protection device that will clamp around the converter.
  • Etch your converter with your vehicle's license plate number in several different locations. It will help the police track your stolen property.
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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46


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