Thieves Target Catalytic Converters

This catalytic security shield is listed at $134.95 on Ebay  |  photo from Ebay  |  post by Larry Clinton

As FHA President Michael Labate informed the community by email last week, there has been a rash of thefts of catalytic converters from the floating home parking lots in recent weeks. One neighbor on Gate 6 ½ had two thefts in one week from the same Toyota Prius.

On certain cars, these devices, required by law in California, contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, rhodium or gold as the catalyst. ABC7News reported recently that Prius models from 2004 to 2009 as well as the Honda Element are highly targeted. Those models also sit high off the ground, so thieves can slip under them easily.

Thieves can sell the converters to metal recyclers for anywhere from $20 to $200. The recyclers extract the metal and resell it for as much as $6,000 an ounce, as in the case of rhodium.

It costs $1,000 or more for a replacement converter to be installed. If the thief damages the vehicle’s wiring or fuel line in the process, the vehicle could be left in a dangerous state and cost far more to repair.

Thieves can remove a catalytic converter in less than two minutes in some cases. The only tools needed are a wrench (for converters that are bolted on) or a reciprocating saw (for converters that are welded in). Some thieves bring a mechanic’s creeper. Then all they do is slide under the vehicle, remove the bolts holding the converter, and take it.

The aftermarket has responded by designing products to deter and prevent catalytic converter theft. If these devices  take too long to remove, the thieves will hopefully move on to easier pickings. The Internet has ads for many different makes. Consult your mechanic or dealer for a specific recommendation.

Waldo Point Harbormaster Bill Price advises to report such thefts to the Marin County Sheriff, especially if one is in progress. Call Marin County Dispatch at 415-473-2311; response time is much faster than dialing 911.