3 suspected catalytic converter thieves busted in El Cerrito

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Photo courtesy of the El Cerrito Police Department

Three suspected catalytic converter thieves were arrested in El Cerrito early Monday, police said.

At 2:01 a.m., officers were dispatched to the parking lot of the apartment complex at 10900 San Pablo Ave. on a report that people were looking into cars. Officers arrived and found two of the suspects in their car with a stolen catalytic converter in the backseat, police said.

“As officers were looking around to see what car the catalytic converter had been stolen from, they found a third suspect hiding on the ground in front of a car,” police said. “Officers located three additional catalytic converters which appeared to have been stolen. All three suspects were arrested, booked at ECPD, and then issued citations and released.”

Now, El Cerrito police is looking to reunite the recovered catalytic converters with their rightful owners. Those who have suffered a recent theft of your catalytic converter are asked to contact the El Cerrito Police Department at (510) 215-4400 during business hours.

Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise throughout the Bay Area, as they contain several types of expensive recyclable materials that can be scrapped for a quick profit, police said. Since May 10, over a half-dozen thefts have been reported in El Cerrito alone.

“Thefts of catalytic converters increase each time the cost of scrap metal, particularly platinum, increases,” police said. “Your vehicle’s catalytic converter is a device used to reduce the toxicity of emissions from an internal combustion engine. The converter is attached to your exhaust system and is located underneath your car. Catalytic converters contain expensive precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.”

To protect yourself from such thefts, police advise that car owners park in areas where passersby will easily see their vehicle; to park “defensively,” meaning park high profile vehicles so they are surrounded by low ground clearance vehicles or park near security cameras, if possible; possibly have a muffler shop weld bracing into your car’s catalytic converter protection device that will clamp around the converter or block it off completely; and etch your converter with your vehicle’s license plate number or VIN in several different locations. Serializing will help police track your property if it is stolen and recovered.

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