New numbers on the high cost of stolen catalytic converters. A report released by State Farm Insurance shows that residents in our state have been hit harder than any other state, making California number one in thefts.
30 seconds to up 2 minutes is all it takes for a catalytic converter to be stolen. The tool most commonly used for this crime is a Sawzall hammer.
In 2020, State Farm paid over $10.8 million for 4,507 catalytic converter theft claims in California, last year those numbers more than doubled to $23 million paid for 9,057 theft claims.
In the city of San Luis Obispo, the thefts began in the middle of 2020 with 13 catalytic thefts. That number increased to more than 170 thefts in 2021.
“Well definitely the most targeted vehicle is a Toyota Prius and it’s because the Toyota Prius is made with a catalytic converter that has precious metals that are higher concentrations, so they are worth more," said Sgt. Trevor Shalhoob with the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLO PD).
Although the thefts are happening throughout the city, SLO PD says there are hot spots including downtown SLO.
San Luis Obispo resident Rebecca Brogdon lives in another hot spot just north of the Cal Poly campus.
"They put this thing on jacks, and they unbolted the catalytic converter, and then they snipped off the sensors, and they just ran off with it," said Brogdon.
All the thieves left behind was a bolt.
“The new catalytic converter and the labor were about $3,500 and the cage was another $500. So, we would have much rather just paid for the cage," said Brogdon.
She wasn’t the only victim that night, Brogdon said another car was hit on the same street that is why SLO PD says it’s important to take preventative measures.
“You can serialize your catalytic converter just placing some type of label on it that’s not removable. If we are able to find that converter we would be able to search our system and match it up to your vehicle’s serial number," said Shalhoob.
Another measure SLO PD advises to use is to park in a garage when possible and parking in well-lit areas with cameras around. Another option is to install a cage around the converter.
SLO PD says if you fall victim to this crime the first step is to make a report with the department.