| Sheriff Koon |

One of the most valuable parts of your car – and an item of high interest to thieves – might be under it.

A catalytic converter is a device on the underside of a vehicle that reduces environmental emissions. They contain expensive precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.

It’s the precious metals that have made catalytic converter thefts something law enforcement agencies around the country have had to tackle. People cut them from underneath a car and take them to scrapyards for a quick buck.

Deputies responded to 144 catalytic converter thefts between July and December last year. The department received reports of 55 catalytic converter thefts during the same months in 2019.

We’ve addressed this with extra patrols, and detectives have been visiting scrap yards for potential leads in ongoing cases. We also made a significant arrest last month during which we found several catalytic converters and saw blades used to cut metal.  

Here are a few tips to help protect your vehicles against catalytic converter theft:

• Park where your car will be visible. Park under lights after dark or near windows at a business. Park near security cameras, if possible.

• If your catalytic converter is a “bolt on” model, have the bolts welded shut.

• Ask your mechanic about installing a catalytic converter protection device.

• Etch your converter with your vehicle’s identification number and license plate number in several different locations.