Thieves target catalytic converters in South Shore
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – South Lake Tahoe police recorded a rash catalytic converter thefts this week.
Between Monday night and Tuesday morning, thieves stole the emission-reducing devices from at least five vehicles at the South Shore, according to a Wednesday statement from Sgt. Brian Williams
Three of the thefts happened in city limits and the other two took place in unincorporated El Dorado County.
“In each case, the thief crawled underneath the vehicle and used some sort of cutting tool to remove the converter,” Williams said.
One of victims thought his muffler had fallen off after starting his 1994 Toyota pickup truck Tuesday morning and immediately hearing a “terribly loud rumbling sound,” Williams said.
“He discovered the loud exhaust sound was unrelated to his muffler, but was actually due to his missing catalytic converter,” Williams said. “During the night thieves had crawled underneath his vehicle and removed the catalytic converter for the valuable metals that can be recycled for cash.”
Thieves target the devices for their ceramic cores coated with platinum, rhodium and palladium, Williams said.
The devices are worth anywhere from $50 to $200 from scrap metal dealers, according to a 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services.
“SUV’s and jeeps provide the best opportunity for catalytic converter theft because the ground clearance is so high and often the converter is held on by four bolts, easily detached with a socket wrench,” according to the report.
The report does not include figures detailing the amount of metal theft in the U.S., but media reports have shown an increase.
Some areas show double or triple the amount of reported theft in the past couple years, according to the report, which recommends securing catalytic converters to prevent theft.
“With the declining economy, the value of precious metals has steadily increased, making this type of theft appealing to thieves and often posing a low risk of being caught in the act,” Williams said.
Police do not have suspects in this week’s thefts and encourage anyone with information on the case to contact Detective Jeff Roberson at 530-542-6100.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.