OXNARD, Calif. - Three men were arrested in Oxnard on Saturday after being caught in the act of stealing catalytic converters from vehicles.
Around 2 a.m. that morning, an Oxnard Police officer was patrolling the area of Del Norte Boulevard near Sturgis Road when they heard what sounded like metal being cut.
The officer went to investigate and saw a grey mini-van speeding out of a parking lot. The officer drove after the van and pulled the vehicle over.
Police said the driver of the van did not have a license and his two passengers were on probation for theft charges.
Officers then conducted a search of the vehicle and found power saws, used saw blades, and other cutting tools as well as nine freshly cut catalytic converters.
The officers checked the area where the cutting noise had been heard and found several trucks with catalytic converters cut from their exhaust systems.
The three men, all residents of Bakersfield, were arrested and booked in Ventura County Jail.
Police explained that catalytic converters are used to reduce vehicle emissions and thieves target them because of the precious metals they contain, including platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
The stolen converters are then sold online where they can fetch high prices.
Unfortunately, the victims of these thefts can face thousands of dollars in repairs. Trucks, fleet vans and other vehicles with a higher ground clearance are especially targeted because the catalytic converters are easier to access.
In order to help protect yourself from this type of theft, police advise:
- Parking your vehicle inside a secure garage, secured yard, or parked in a way to prevent access to the undercarriage (especially for fleet vehicles).
- If parking in a driveway, be sure to have motion lights or continuous lights illuminating your driveway as a deterrent.
- If available, be sure to park in areas that are covered by video surveillance.
- A car alarm equipped with a vehicle motion detector will also be helpful.
- Mark or engrave your vehicle’s catalytic converter with the vehicle license plate or VIN number, or with brightly colored, high-temperature paint. This will help law enforcement track a converter back to your vehicle in the event of a theft.
- Check with your insurance company regarding catalytic converter theft as many insurance companies do cover such a theft under comprehensive coverage plans, as the catalytic converter is an OEM vehicle part.
- There are also several options for anti-theft devices from companies such as the “CatClamp” and “CatStrap” that offer devices that surround or bolt onto the converters, or there are covers and shield type devices from “Cat Security” and various others, that are made for specific vehicle models and bolt in place, protecting the catalytic converter.
- If suspicious activity or crimes in progress are seen, be sure to call 911 immediately. If your catalytic converter is stolen, you will know as soon as the vehicle is started, as it will sound like there’s no muffler at all. It is still ok to drive your vehicle directly to a muffler shop/dealership for repairs. If possible, take photos of the damages prior to repairing the vehicle.