SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Catalytic converters are being stolen from cars across the Central Coast.
For nearly 40 years, every car in the U.S. has been required to have a catalytic converter. Unfortunately, these parts can be easily accessible and are now targets for opportunistic thieves.
Located between a car's engine and muffler, a catalytic converter burns off toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide running through the exhaust system.
Inside, the converters contain certain precious metals, like platinum and rhodium.
With both metals valued at well over $1,000 an ounce, they have become prime targets for thieves.
Santa Barbara has seen a rash of catalytic converter thefts the past few months most of those occurring in the middle of the night.
Using a battery powered saw or cutting device, thieves can remove a converter in just a couple of minutes causing significant monetary damage to car owners.
Phil Patterson, who works at Rizzoli's Automotive says,"to replace those, it's very costly too. It can cost anywhere from an older vehicle a couple of hundred dollars for a catalytic converter, it can go up into the thousands. It can be fifteen, eighteen hundred dollars for a newer vehicle."
Santa Barbara Police say Toyota vehicles have been big targets recently.
Those with raised chassis, like trucks, are more inviting since their converters are more easily accessible.
Law enforcement advise the public to be vigilant in fighting this type of crime and report any suspicious activity to police so they can hopefully stop this growing problem.
Police say to be aware that suspects may prowl neighborhoods by driving slowly up and down streets. Suspects may also park in the middle of the street to allow for quick access to targeted vehicle.
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