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Catalytic converter thefts on the rise in Roseville

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise once again in Roseville, and police are reminding residents to be mindful. Reports of catalytic converter thefts have risen nearly 60 percent since August, with a total of 17 thefts during the month of October and at least seven so far this month, according to Roseville police. That is the highest number of thefts reported since September 2008, when 29 thefts were reported. According to Dee Dee Gunther of the Roseville Police Department, the spike in thefts seems to coincide with the rise in the price of metal. “We have been looking at the history over the last few years,” Gunther said. “They seem to go up and down.” A catalytic convertor uses three precious metals — platinum, palladium and rhodium — to create a chemical reaction that cleans and controls the emissions coming from a vehicle, according to Michael Morrison, shop foreman for Roseville Toyota. As of press time on Thursday, the going price for platinum was $1,580 per pound, while the price of palladium was $610 per pound, according to the website www.metalprices.com. The going price for rhodium was not available. Although every car has a catalytic converter, thieves usually target pickup trucks and SUVs because they tend to be higher off the ground and provide easier access, Morrison said. The thieves will either unbolt or saw off the catalytic converter, then break it down to obtain the precious metals, which they will sell to scrap yards and metal recyclers, Gunther said. “Part of the problem is once a catalytic converter is stolen, that part is fairly unidentifiable, especially when it gets to a metal recycler,” Gunther said. Gunther said nearly all the reports of thefts have occurred on Toyota pickup trucks and SUVs. “Toyota seems to be specifically targeted because our trucks tend to be a little taller than most,” Morrison said. Morrison said many car manufacturers, including Toyota, have addressed the problem by moving the catalytic converter forward closer to the firewalls in more modern vehicles, making them more difficult to get to. He said eventually the converter may be built in as part of the exhaust manifold, making it almost impossible to access. He said there are a number of after-market products available to protect your car, including audible alarms and motion sensors, but no product is completely fool-proof. “There is nothing out there that is 100 percent safe, other than putting a vehicle inside (in a garage) under lock and key,” Morrison said. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.