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Catalytic converter thefts plague El Dorado Hills

By July 26, 2011

EL DORADO HILLS — Three months after the rash of Cameron Park catalytic converter thefts came to an end, El Dorado Hills residents are the latest targets of the auto-centric crime spree.

On July 17 and 18, four El Dorado Hills residents were victimized by catalytic converter theft, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

The victims all reported their automobiles being vandalized during the late evening or early morning hours, said sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Golmitz. The victims, who all live within two miles of each other, drive Toyota 4Runners or Toyota pickup trucks. In each instance, the victims parked their Toyotas along the street, in front of their residences.

Golmitz said those particular vehicles are targeted because their catalytic converters contain more of the precious metals criminals sell to recyclers and automotive dismantlers. Converters house trace amounts of platinum and palladium metals, which sell for between $777 and $1,700 per ounce. The converters themselves can sell for between $100 to $200.

As of press time, the Sheriff’s Department had no suspect information to release.

“Owners of these vehicles are encouraged to etch their driver’s license number into the catalytic converter so if recovered they can be returned to the owner,” said Golmitz via e-mail. “In addition to etching, there are several aftermarket devices that encase the catalytic converter, making its theft much more difficult.”

In April, two Sacramento men — Thao Xiong, 31, and Xeng Vue, 35 — were arrested during an early morning traffic stop in Cameron Park. Deputies reportedly found a catalytic converter, as well as a pipe cutter and other tools consistent with that type of crime.

At the time, deputies were swamped with reports of catalytic converter thefts, having logged at least 15 complaints by the end of March.

Residents should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or vehicles to the Sheriff’s Department, Golmitz said.

“If you see a suspicious vehicle, it is important that you obtain accurate vehicle description and license plate numbers without putting yourself at risk,” he said.

[email protected]

Jim Ratajczak

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