Catalytic Converter Thefts on the Rise

A recent Glendale police traffic stop led to four arrests and the recovery of three catalytic converters in addition to a floor jack and two reciprocating saws.
Photo courtesy of GPD

By Mary O’KEEFE

It’s early morning and you get into your car, turn the key and hear the most horrendous sound. For many people that sound means their catalytic converter has been stolen from their vehicle.

According to BeenVerified https://www.beenverified.com/data-analysis/catalytic-converter-theft-state-rankings/, thefts of catalytic converters tripled in the first nine months of 2021 compared to all catalytic converter thefts in 2020. By the end of September there were an estimated 49,611 thefts nationwide, a 244% increase from all reported thefts of catalytic converters in 2020. California, Texas and Washington are the top states for theft.

Metals used in catalytic converters include platinum, palladium and rhodium –all metals worth thousands of dollars per ounce.

“Overall there has been an uptick in catalytic converter thefts in 2021 [in Glendale],” said Det. Christopher Krivak, Glendale Police Dept.

Sgt. Edward Retamoza with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.-Crescenta Valley Station said he has not seen an increase in thefts; however, they have been hit “pretty hard” in the past.

The crime does appear to occur in one area for a while then another area is targeted.

“It is definitely an ebb and flow crime,” Krivak said. “Certain areas will get [hit] hard during a night and then suspects will move on to other areas. We also experience an ebb and flow in the crime itself. Thefts of catalytic converters will occur for a couple of weeks and then die down for a couple of weeks.”

But there are some ways vehicle owners can protect themselves from catalytic converter theft such as parking in the driveway of their home.

“That helps get the cars off the street and harder for people to access,” Retamoza said.

“Park in well-lit areas. Get surveillance cameras on residences and park vehicles in garages and secure parking garages when available,” Krivak added.

There are additional precautions that can be taken including having license plate numbers etched onto the catalytic converter. The Glendale Police Dept. has partnered with AAA on the “Etch & Catch” program. The next event will take place on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People must register and space is limited. For locations, refer to the flyer below. There are also anti-theft devices that can be purchased online or at car repair shops. And, of course, as with all crimes when you see something, say something.

“If someone hears cutting or electrical tools in the middle of the night, call
9-1-1,” Krivak said.