SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — San Diego police are investigating a rapid increase in the number of cases of stolen catalytic converters from cars.
The part is a component of the exhaust system that helps reduce vehicle emissions and keeps your car from sounding like a loud motorcycle.
In a North County parking lot, in under 85 seconds, suspects pulled up to a small parked car, jacked it up, then cut out the catalytic converter and took off.
"These groups of people can go anywhere in town," said San Diego Police Officer Lt. Scott Wahl. "They're targeting cars that are parked right on the street."
San Diego Police Northeastern Division posted online that the uptick in catalytic converter thefts over the last month has grown to nine cases of the part stolen from parked cars. The vehicles mainly early 2000s models including Toyota Camrys and Honda Odyssey vans.
Thieves are taking the parts to recycling centers for cash. Inside the ceramic of the part are three precious metals: palladium, platinum and rodium.
The way you know yours is stolen is if the car makes a lot of noise described by Mike Krase, lead technician at Ray Frey Auto Center, as sounding like a tractor.
Krase says catalyitc converters can cost anywhere from $400 to more than 1300 to replace when thieves sell them for a couple hundred dollars.
"If a thief really wants something, they're going to go after it no matter what," said Krase.
They can target underneath your car on some model but it's tougher to take when its tucked under the engine - like in a Rav 4.
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