From a 10/21/08 Thousand Oaks Police Department Media Release:
Nature of Incident: Crime Alert: Catalytic converter thefts on the increase
Location: Throughout Thousand Oaks and Ventura County
The price of recycled metals has skyrocketed in recent years due to high demand and surging commodity prices. Although prices have eased since the recent economic downturn, thieves have capitalized on the trend by stealing manhole covers, bronze statues, irrigation pipes, and copper wiring. One item that has captured the attention of thieves is the catalytic converter. The emission control device found on all modern gas-powered cars is being removed from parked cars across the country.
Our local communities are no exception. There have been 56 thefts of catalytic converters throughout Ventura County since June 1, 2008. Forty seven of the thefts were from Toyota vehicles, and 17 occurred in Thousand Oaks. Thieves typically target sport utility vehicles, since the ground clearance allows them to easily work underneath the vehicle. They either cut the device off the vehicle with power tools, or unbolt it, depending on the configuration.
Catalytic converters contain small amounts of platinum, palladium, and rhodium, which are highly prized metals. They can be sold to metal recyclers for amounts that vary between $25.00 and $100.00 apiece, depending on market prices.
The biggest cost of these thefts ends up on the shoulders of the victims. Replacement catalytic converters cost between $1,000.00 and $1,500.00, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
Many of the thefts have occurred in public parking lots during daylight hours. If you observe suspicious activity, such as someone working underneath a vehicle in a public area, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
We are entering a time of year when thefts and burglaries from vehicles increase dramatically. Last year, during the holiday season, we saw an increase in those crimes, as well as the beginning of the catalytic converter thefts. The first significant trend of catalytic converter thefts occurred around the shopping malls during last year’s holiday season. We are asking the public to be vigilant about locking their vehicles and removing valuables from plain view. Also, report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at (805) 494-TALK (Thousand Oaks / Moorpark) or (805) 385-TALK (Camarillo / Oxnard / Port Hueneme).
Note from Conejo Joe: If you see someone carrying around a catalytic converter and there's no auto repair shop around, call the cops! Let's put a stop to this madness!