Thieves want to steal your cat

Catalytic converter, that is. The auto emissions devices bring hundreds as scrap metal.

August 03, 2011|By Daniel Siegal,

With the economy struggling and metal prices trending up over the last few years, drivers in La Cañada Flintridge have been getting hit by catalytic converter thieves.

Located in the exhaust systems of modern vehicles, catalytic converters help clean exhaust emissions. Because they contain components made of platinum and other valuable metals, catalytic converters, or “cats,” are tempting targets for thieves.

With seven such thefts reported to the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station since March 26, this trend is again on the rise.


Sgt. Ray Harley of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station said that the frequency of catalytic converter thefts fluctuates, but some areas in town are hit harder than others.

“Well, there’s no pattern in terms of when they’re happening, but there is a pattern, in terms of where they’re happening,” Harley said.

Harley cited the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA parking lot at 1930 Foothill Blvd. and the medical offices parking lot at 1346 Foothill Blvd. as the two most common locations for these thefts in La Cañada Flintridge.

Surprisingly, six of the seven recent thefts occurred during daylight hours. Harley said that cordless power tools have made stealing a catalytic converter a matter of minutes, which means less chance to get caught.

“These things are easy to remove,” said Harley. “Now these guys have cordless reciprocating saws, and can just cut these babies out in no time and all.”

Harley said that the thieves generally work in teams of two to four people, with part of the crew serving as a lookout while the others work on removing the converters.

In addition to watching out for police, lookouts can also provide cover to passersby who might unwittingly witness the theft.

I think it’s easy enough for these guys to play it off and appear as though they’re working on a car,” Harley said. “There’s no window smashing going on and somebody reaching in and grabbing stuff.”

Dan Monroe, president of C&M Metals in Los Angeles, said that the higher quality the converter, the greater the scrap value. The converters in Toyotas frequently are targeted. Four of the seven recent thefts involved Toyotas.

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