Tuesday Oct 28 2008
Thieves targeting car part for ease
By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
The word is out that a trio of precious metals is easy to steal, and that catalytic converters are the one-stop shop. Police and scrap-yard owners in several lower-foothills towns are facing a wave of thieves filching and selling the untraceable component of auto exhaust systems. They acknowledge that the rhodium, palladium and platinum in converters is irresistible – when cutting one away from underneath a vehicle takes barely a minute with basic tools. “Thieves steal the catalytic converters because they contain small amounts of precious metals including platinum – which is worth up to $1,290 an ounce; palladium – which is worth up to $370 an ounce, and rhodium – which can trade for up to $6,000 an ounce on the market,” law officials announced in a joint communique by Folsom Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and five law agencies in Placer County including the Roseville and Lincoln police departments. Some Folsom residents drove their vehicles recently to Lincoln to take protective action, said Paul Tyler, community services officer at the Lincoln Police Department. Local tire shops that also do exhaust work donated the service of marking catalytic converters to make them traceable by scrap dealers and police, he said. “It was called ‘etch and catch,’” Tyler said. “Folsom residents took advantage.” Toyota Tacomas, 4-Runners, Isuzus and all makes of SUV have proven especially vulnerable. “More than 90 percent of our vehicles that have been subject to this crime fall in these categories,” the law agencies announced. According to Jennifer Krings, spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association, it is already common for thieves to make daylight sweeps of shopping malls, school parking lots and busy business districts to steal catalytic converters. Unmarked catalytic converters are frequently bringing around $100 apiece at local scrap yards, Tyler said “It’s getting out of hand,” he said. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at email@example.com or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com. --- In the know Toyota Tacomas, 4-Runners, Isuzus and all makes of SUV are vulnerable.