Law enforcement agencies in the Puget Sound region have seen a dramatic rise in the reported thefts of catalytic converters since the beginning of the year.
Thefts of catalytic converters, especially from Toyota Priuses, have been reported throughout King County, with 514 thefts cases this year in Seattle alone.
A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that is part of the exhaust system of most vehicles. Thieves have targeted converters because of they contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, and are often easily accessible and lightweight. While Priuses seem to be the most targeted vehicle, authorities have received reports of thefts from numerous other makes and models of vehicles.
Catalytic converters are commonly stolen in less than two minutes from parked vehicles by using either a wrench (for converters bolted on the car) or a battery-powered saw (for converters that are welded onto the vehicle).
Thieves will sell the stolen converters for quick cash. The wait for a replacement at some dealerships can extend to weeks because of the high volume of catalytic convert theft.
To prevent such thefts, detectives would like to remind vehicle owners to try and park their vehicle inside a garage or a well-lit, highly visible area. Auto part manufacturers also sell after-market devices to further secure catalytic converters.
The Seattle Police Department is working with King County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies in the region. Authorities have not yet made any arrests but are investigating several leads. Anyone with information on recent thefts of catalytic converters is asked to contact police.