Thieves keep stealing catalytic converters off cars in Berkeley, police warn

There’s been a recent uptick in thefts of catalytic converters in Berkeley, and police are asking car owners to be vigilant of any suspicious activity taking place at night.

At least 14 vehicles in the Berkeley area have had their catalytic converters taken since July 20. Toyota Prius vehicles are being particularly targeted due to their light weight, which “makes it easier to lift with a vehicle floor jack,” Berkeley police said in a statement.

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The majority of the thefts are happening in the early morning hours, according to police. Thieves are using portable reciprocating saws to remove the catalytic converters, which can happen in less than five minutes even if you had the forethought to have the converter welded to your car.

Replacing the converter can cost hundreds to a couple thousand dollars to get fixed, depending on the damage. Thieves, in turn, generally sell the converters — which contain a number of precious metals, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium — for anywhere from $20-$200, according to Edmunds. The catalytic converters in Prius vehicles contain more of these metals, KCRA reported, therefore making them more profitable, and a better target, for thieves.

Police are offering a number of suggestions to deter thieves from stealing your converter:

  • If parking in your home garage is an option, do so.
  • Add a motion-sensing light to your driveway, if that’s where you park
  • Leave your car in a well-lit area when parking on the street.
  • Call police about suspicious behavior, such as a person working on the underside of a car late at night, accompanied by the sound of a power saw.

Dianne de Guzman is a Digital Senior Editor at SFGATE. Email: dianne.deguzman@sfgate.com

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Berkeley-catalytic-converters-stolen-Prius-cars-14271297.php.

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