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Morro Bay Police Department asks community to stay vigilant following uptick in catalytic converter thefts

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 13, 2021

Catalytic converters thefts are on the rise in Morro Bay, prompting local law enforcement to encourage residents and community members to be on the look out.

According to the Morro Bay Police Department, Toyota Prius are the type of vehicle that are targeted in these heists.

One of the reasons these types of converters are being sought out is what's inside of them.

According to Ritchie Wimmer, owner of Jim's Automotive and Hybrid shop in Morro Bay, the converter hosts a ceramic honeycomb that is infused with precious metals.

These metals are in demand, which drive up the cost of the part and also create a black market for stolen ones.

Converters can be stolen from other types of cars but some like the Prius, have more value to thieves than others.

The cost of replacing a converter isn't cheap either.

"The list price for a Prius catalytic converter is about $2,200. So by the time you add labor and the other the other damaged parts that were damaged during the removal or theft - you are upwards of $3,000," says Wimmer.

When a catalytic converter is removed from a vehicle, it can be identified due to a distinct noise from the engine, according to Wimmer.

"You have open exhaust coming right out of the side of the engine. It sounds like you have no muffler on the vehicle," Wimmer said.

Wimmer says since Thursday, he has gotten several calls from customers about an odd noise coming from their vehicle, they thought it was an engine problem.

"After two or three of those calls, cars started getting towed in and we quickly realized it was due to their catalytic converters being stolen," Wimmer expained.

So far, three people have had their Prii towed in to his shop with stolen catalytic converters, and Wimmer says multiple other people have called in with the same issue as well.

Wimmer's shop has noticed 2004-2009 as well as 2010-2015 Prii have been targeted.

Morro Bay Police Department put out a statement February 12th writing:

"The Morro Bay Police Department has received a total of seven reports of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles over the past week. Morro Bay is not the only city within San Luis Obispo County seeing an uptick in these thefts."
Morro Bay Police Department

The Morro Bay Police Department recommends parking your car inside a garage. If you do not have one, they recommend parking in a well lit area and using surveillance to keep an eye on your car.

Any tips of surveillance video can be turned into Morro Bay Police.