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Pacific Beach man has catalytic converter stolen from his car in Point Loma twice

"There's no way it can happen again, happened again," said Jeff Schwarz.

SAN DIEGO — This isn’t just a problem in San Diego, it’s happening all over the country. La Mesa police say they’ve seen an increase in catalytic converter thefts since last year and it’s only expected to get worse.

"I feel helpless. I can't really prevent it," said Jeff Schwarz who lives in Pacific Beach. 

Schwarz parked his car on Chatsworth Blvd in Point Loma. Thieves stole his catalytic converter not once, but twice. 

"This has now happened a second time in about five months. I was kind of just thinking it was a one time fluke. There's no way it can happen again, happened again," said Schwarz. 

Schwarz is left without a car for a few days while its being repaired at the shop. He says it cost him $3,700 to replace. 

"It can take thieves less than two minutes to steal your catalytic converter," said Lt. Katy Lynch with the La Mesa Police Department.

Turns out thieves are stealing catalytic converters because of the precious metals contained inside, including rhodium, which the National Insurance Crime Bureau valued at $14,500 per ounce. 

"Across the county, we’ve seen an increase, in the first quarter we have had 21 stolen catalytic converters in 2022. In 2021 we had 77. It's definitely on the rise," said Lt. Lynch.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department had 461 catalytic converter theft reports since January 2021. 

The owner at Meineke Pacific Beach says he sees about four cars a month with stolen catalytic converters and it continues to rise. He says Pruis, Hondas, and SUVs are the most targeted vehicles.

Lt. Lynch also says high profile vehicles like SUVs and pick up trucks are a big target. She says Priuses are a big target since they contain a larger portion of  of the precious metals. 

What can drivers do to prevent catalytic converter theft?

"There are a number of things people can do to help prevent this from happening. Park in a well lit area or under lighting as best you can. Also, have an after market cage or shield over your catalytic converter to make it more difficult for thieves. We also have engraving events to put your VIN number on your catalytic converter for free so police can trace it back to you. You can also have a mechanic or your dealer etch the identification number into the catalytic converter. Also, be on lookout for your neighbors. If you see something, say something," said Lt. Lynch. 

"I'm hoping as cars are manufactured, maybe they become made in a way that’s harder for them to steal or maybe the economy improves and people aren’t so desperate to do this. Just hope it doesn’t happen to you or happen again," said Schwarz.

Because of the cost of the catalytic converter which could range around $2,000, Lt. Lynch says it is considered grand theft which is a felony. They will have a catalytic converter engraving event in La Mesa around late April. 

WATCH RELATED: Local auto shops back Sen. Jones catalytic converter bill, add more security at shops due to thieves (Jan. 2022).


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