Catalytic converter theft continues

Tools and saw, allegedly used in catalytic converter thefts. Photo courtesy of BPD

Catalytic converters are still an attractive target for thieves in Piedmont. The Exedra reported on the thefts last summer and reports continue to dot police logs in the city.

“Catalytic converter theft has been with us since there have been catalytic converters,” said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. He added that numbers peaked a few years ago but it is hard to determine exact totals because 1) not every victim makes an insurance claim; and 2) a claim can be coded in various ways.

Captain Chris Monahan of the Piedmont Police Department said that a suspect was arrested on July 6 with six converters. However, the suspect wasn’t held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thieves typically sell the converters to recycling centers. Scafidi said those centers then sell the stolen parts to higher level centers that harvest the valuable metals inside.

“We are trying to get to the next level, but the suspects aren’t giving it up,” Captain Monahan said. “We believe it might be ‘somewhere’ in the Central Valley.”

Scafidi said there is a legislative fix for the problem – requiring recycling centers to take information from people who drop off converters.

Traditionally, SUVs were targets because of the ease for a thief to get under the vehicle. But Priuses have been targets of late.

Monahan said the problem ebbs and flows.

“The county keeps talking about a Task Force, but we aren’t there yet,” he said. “We, and other agencies, have made arrests, but it continues to pop up as a problem.”

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