A recent rash of stolen catalytic converters - devices that reduce pollution-causing emissions - has the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office warning San Carlans to be on alert.
The Sheriff sent out an email announcing a higher than average number of thefts of converters from late 1990's model Toyota Tacoma and 4 Runner trucks.
"Within the last three days there have been approximately six of these thefts," the Sherrif's Office said. "We are working hard to identify the suspects in these case and would like to take the time to educate our citizens in regards to when, where and how these crimes are occurring.
The Sheriff’s Office has included helpful tips to avoid being a victim of these crimes.
• All of our victim vehicles have been 1997-1999 Toyota Tocoma or 4Runner trucks.
• All the cases so far in San Carlos have occurred south of San Carlos Avenue, between ECR and Alameda Da Las Pulgas.
• All the cases in San Carlos have occurred in the late night hours.
Stolen catalytic converters are sold to scrap yards for around $100 to $150, the Sherrif said. Rhodium sells for roughly $9,500 an ounce, while platinum pays at about $2,000.
Smart steps for preventing catalytic converter theft
Preventing catalytic converter theft on your vehicle is a matter of common sense and some research.
1. Always park in well-lighted areas.
2. At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close the entrance of the building, or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic.
3. If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night.
4. Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable. This can act as a catalytic converter theft deterrent and help with local police investigations.
5. Purchase a vehicle security system, and make sure its set to triggered with just the slightest motion.
6. Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a couple of pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame.
7. Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or on the Internet.