Catalytic converter thefts increase
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is reporting an increase in the theft of catalytic converters in both densely populated neighborhoods as well as rural areas.
This pattern aligns with a crime trend in other California counties, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
This year 276 catalytic converter thefts were reported by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office-Criminal Investigation Bureau statistical data said the most targeted vehicles are Honda Accords, Toyota Prius and Ford F250 – F350 series trucks.
The suspects quickly get under a vehicle and cut the exhaust metal pipes to and from the catalytic converter with an electric saw. According to the sheriff’s office, surveillance videos show the theft being completed in less than two minutes while an accomplice waits in a nearby getaway car. The catalytic converters are then sold and stripped for their valuable metals.
To reduce the risk of becoming a victim, the sheriff’s office has the following theft prevention tips:
— Keep your vehicle in a locked garage or a well-lit area close to your home.
— Set up cameras to record the parking area. The sheriff’s office said this acts as a tool in both deterrence and investigation.
— Install anti-theft devices to make a catalytic converter harder to remove.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office encourages county residents to report suspicious activity by calling the non-emergency dispatch phone number 805-683-2724 or calling 9-1-1 to report a crime in progress.
If you have information about an existing catalytic converter theft, you’re asked to call the Sheriff’s Detective Bureau at 805-681-4150.
— Katherine Zehnder