The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office is warning residents about increasing catalytic converter thefts happening throughout the county.
Sheriff's officials say 276 catalytic converter thefts have been reported in Santa Barbara County so far this year.
They say the most targeted vehicles are Honda Accords, Toyota Prius, and Ford F250 and F350 series trucks.
Sheriff's officials say these thefts often occur in less than two minutes with the thieves using electric saws to cut the catalytic converters from vehicles. The catalytic converters are then sold for their valuable metals.
The sheriff's office released the following tips to help protect yourself from catalytic converter theft:
- Keep your vehicle in a locked garage or a well-lit area close to your home.
- Set up cameras to record your parking area.
- Install anti-theft devices to make your catalytic converter harder to remove.
To report suspicious activity, call the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's non-emergency dispatch number at (805) 683-2724 or call 911 to report a crime in progress.
Anyone with information about an existing catalytic converter theft is urged to contact the Sheriff's Detective Bureau at (805) 681-4150.