Cameron Park Life

Catalytic converter thefts on the rise

By April 14, 2011

Over the last month, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department has taken 15 (15) theft reports for catalytic converters.

These thefts have occurred from March 29 and April 10. The thefts are occurring throughout the week but seem to be occurring during overnight hours from approximately 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Most of these crimes haves been in a very concentrated area of Cameron Park.  Several apartment complexes have been targeted, (Glen View, The Knolls, Camarado Gardens, Sierra Oaks, Greenwood Knoll and, Green Valley Apartments).

All the victim vehicles have all been Toyota pickups ranging from 1989-1999 year models. The suspect(s) have to climb under the vehicles in order to remove the catalytic converter.  Based on the investigations, it is believed the suspect(s) are removing the catalytic converters with some sort of tool.  Investigators are working with neighboring agencies as this is not an isolated crime trend in El Dorado County.

Catalytic converters appear to be targeted because they contain trace amounts of platinum and palladium metals that are currently selling for between $777 and $1700 per ounce to recyclers. It is nearly impossible for someone to remove the metals from the catalytic converters without specialized equipment. It is believed the suspects can receive anywhere form $100 to $200 per converter. The replacement cost for the consumer can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the year, make and model of the vehicle.

Currently the only descriptions of the suspect(s) are that they are males. On one occasion the suspect(s) were in a Toyota pick-up and at another location a white colored compact possibly a Toyota or Honda was seen.

The Sheriff’s Department offers these guidelines for protecting yourself against this type of crime:

  • Make sure you have an audible alarm system installed on your vehicle that sounds when the car is tampered with, and make sure it is in good working order.
  • When possible, park your vehicle in a garage and be sure to secure all garage doors.
  • Alternatively, park in a well-lit area as close to a building as you can. Take care when parking during daytime hours to note what kind of lighting situation you will have once it does get dark.
  • Install motion sensitive spotlights in your driveway. These can be purchased very reasonably and are available with solar power panels so you don’t have to run any wiring or worry about an electrical outlet.
  • Check into aftermarket devices which bolt or attached to vehicles catalytic converter making it more difficult to remove.
  • If you haven’t already, consider starting a Neighborhood Watch in your area to increase the number of eyes and ears alert for suspicious activity.
  • Call the police immediately to report any suspicious activity.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department is putting this information out to alert the public to this problem. Residents are requested to contact the department if they observe suspicious persons casing or tampering with vehicles. We can be reached via our business line at (530) 642-4711, or the 24 hour non-emergency line at (530) 621-6600, or in the event of an emergency call 9-1-1.

Press Release


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