Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police are reporting a rash in catalytic converters thefts that began Nov. 26 and have targeted 11 Toyota trucks in town.
On Dec. 6 alone, six such theft reports were taken by police, said Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Sgt. Kerry Harris.
The thefts have taken place in single-family home driveways, town streets, apartment complexes, and public parking lots, Harris indicated.
Nationwide, catalytic converter thefts have been a significant problem for several years, Harris added.
Thieves cut or unbolt catalytic converters from vehicles, and sell them to recyclers who recover valuable metals including platinum, palladium, rhodium or gold. As the price of these metals has climbed, the incidence of catalytic converter theft has increased as well, he said.
While thieves may make from $20 to $200 from selling stolen converters, it can cost between $800 and $3000 for vehicle owners to replace them, according to Harris.
It is believed that Toyota trucks and SUVs are particularly targeted because the ground clearance of these vehicles allows thieves to easily get under them and the method of mounting the catalytic converter allows relatively fast, quiet removal.
In some cases the converter can be unbolted from a vehicle, in others a battery-powered saw is used to cut it from the vehicle exhaust system, he explained.
Virtually every vehicle made since 1975 is equipped with a catalytic converter, so this problem is not unique to Toyota trucks.
Anyone with information about these crimes or aware of suspicious people or vehicles in neighborhoods or public areas, should contact 911 or the at 408-354-8600.
Police offered the following tips to help prevent Los Gatos and Monte Sereno residents from becoming victims of catalytic converter theft:
- Park inside your garage.
- Park in a well-lit area.
- Install an alarm system that includes a shock or proximity sensor.
- Install a special catalytic converter anti-theft device.
- Report suspicious activity to police.