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Police Warn of Catalytic Converter Thefts in Manhattan Beach

Mar 22, 2021 12:58PM ● By Dig Mb Staff
Thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles are becoming increasingly common across the country, including in the city of Manhattan Beach.

According to the Manhattan Beach Police Department, more than 60 vehicles in town have had catalytic converters stolen since last June. The breakdown in thefts is as follows:

• June - December 2020: 48 reported catalytic converter thefts

• Jan - March 19, 2021: 17 reported catalytic converter thefts

MBPD reports that thefts have predominantly occurred between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. (with a peak at 3:00 a.m.).

They have happened across the entire city in no one particular area, with the most frequently targeted vehicles being the Toyota Prius and the Honda Element.

Suspects typically use a mechanical handheld reciprocating saw (loud apparent noise) or mechanical underground cable cutter (quiet and swift), according to MBPD. The whole process can take place in a matter of minutes.

Why Catalytic Converters?

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device used to curb harmful emissions by turning pollutants into less-harmful gasses.

Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, or rhodium. Catalytic converters can bring in up to several hundred dollars from a metal recycler. And with rising prices for rare metals, the theft of catalytic converters has become a growing nationwide trend.

Thieves tend to target hybrid cars because the damage to those rare metals is less on a hybrid car than in a standard car (because its gas engine is used less frequently). Pickup trucks and other high-rise vehicles are also targeted because the catalytic converter is easier to access.

Having a catalytic converter stolen can become a costly headache for vehicle owners. Replacing a catalytic converter, such as for a Prius, may cost up to $3,000 and is not always covered by insurance.

Tips for Citizens

To prevent catalytic converter theft,  MBPD recommends that residents take the following precautions:

1. Park your vehicle in the garage or in a well lit area if possible;

2. Consider installing a “Catalytic Converter Cage” (fits all make/models; starts at approximately $150) or a “Catalytic Converter Shield” (specific to Toyota Prius; starts at approximately $125) through your local muffler shop;

3. Have your catalytic converter etched with identifying information to aid in the investigation/prosecution if recovered stolen;

4. Calibrate your vehicle’s alarm to activate upon vibration;

5. Ensure that your home video surveillance or doorbell cam is functioning properly and is set to record;

6. If you see, or hear something strange, say something. For emergencies, call 911; for non-emergencies, call the MBPD at 310-802-5140.

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