Catalytic converter thefts and precautions you can take

While catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed here in the Puget Sound region and nationwide, you can take measures to reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Thieves look for easy targets, so always park your vehicle in well-lit areas and consider adding bright motion sensor lights. When possible, park in a garage with the door closed. If you’re in a public lot, park close to the building entrance or near the access road. The increased pedestrian traffic in those areas can be a deterrent.

Security devices are available that attach to the converter, making it harder to steal. Having the converter welded to the car frame also makes it more difficult to remove. If you have a security system on your car, calibrate it so vibration sets it off. This ensures the alarm activates if a thief tries to saw off the converter. Video surveillance around your garage or driveway is also useful if you have the budget for it. Engrave your VIN number or license plate onto your catalytic converter to make it easier to identify in case it does get stolen.

Why Thieves Target Catalytic Converters

A catalytic converter is a device that converts toxic exhaust gases from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants. Catalytic Converters are stolen so thieves can sell the precious metals used in manufacturing the devices, platinum, rhodium, and palladium. They sell the converters to scrap yards for several hundred dollars per piece. Unfortunately, it can cost you up to $2000 to replace a catalytic converter, and it is illegal to drive your car without one. The resulting gap in your exhaust system also makes the car run poorly until it is fixed.

Symptoms of Converter Theft

If your catalytic converter has been stolen, you’ll notice a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you turn on the engine. The noise gets louder when you hit the gas. The exhaust is not working properly, so the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often sputtering. Check underneath your car in the back. The catalytic converter is a round canister connecting two pieces of piping in the exhaust. You will see a gap in the middle of your exhaust if the converter is missing, and there will likely be a cut pipe.

We are asking for the public’s help with information about these crimes or the suspects. Please contact the Bellevue Police Department at (425) 452-6917 or Detective Sergeant Disney (425) 452-4156 if you have specific information regarding a recent catalytic converter theft.

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