Takoma Park Police Warn of Catalytic Converter Thefts

Catalytic Converter

Takoma Park police are warning city residents to protect themselves from theft. And the thieves’ targets are under cars.

For the first six days of March, catalytic converters were stolen seven times from city cars.

A catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, and they convert pollutants into less harmful gases.

If you take a look inside a used catalytic converter, nothing looks salvageable, much less valuable. But some of the gray gunk in there can be processed to go into pricey jewelry — and because of this, the grimy auto parts are becoming prime targets for thieves, police said.

There are three types of precious metals that can be processed out of all the gunk found inside a used catalytic converter, and those metals make the street value of a catalytic converter high.

The seven thefts occurred in the following areas:

Unit block of Lee Avenue (1)

7600 block of Maple Avenue (2)

7700 block of Maple Avenue (2)

7400 block of Aspen Avenue (1)

7300 block of New Hampshire Avenue (1)

These thefts are believed to have occurred during the night.

If your converter has been stolen, you will notice a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you turn on the engine. This gets louder when you hit the gas. The exhaust is not working properly, so the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often with a sense of sputtering as you change speed.

Go to the back of the car and look underneath. The catalytic converter is a round canister that connects two pieces of piping in the exhaust. You will see a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust if the converter is missing, and you will likely see signs of the piping being cut away.

To prevent catalytic converter theft, police offer these tips:

  • Always park in well-lit areas when possible. If you have a personal garage, keep your car in the garage with the door closed when the vehicle is not in use. Park close to a building entrance or to the nearest access road when parking in a public lot. This is because of the increased amount of pedestrian traffic in those areas. The more inconvenient your vehicle is to get to, the more likely a thief moves on to an easier target.
  • Security devices are available that attach to the converter, making it harder to steal. Having the converter welded to the car frame also makes it more difficult to remove. If you have a security system on your car, calibrate it so vibration sets it off. This ensures the alarm activates if a thief tries to saw off the converter. Video surveillance around your garage or driveway is also useful if you have the budget for it.
  • Engrave your VIN number onto your catalytic converter to make it easier to identify in case it does get stolen.

If your converter has been stolen, police say you should notify the police department as soon as you discover the theft.

If you have your VIN number engraved on the device, give them that number as well. Call local scrap yards to inform them of the theft, especially if there is an engraved number on the converter that they can verify. Give them your phone number so you are notified in case your converter shows up at a scrap shop.

Diligence is your best defense against catalytic converter theft. Pay attention to local news reports so you are aware of any theft increases. While there is no guaranteed method of preventing theft, the goal is to make your car as unattractive a target as possible.

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One Response to “Takoma Park Police Warn of Catalytic Converter Thefts”

  1. On March 12, 2018 at 11:23 pm responded with... #

    What do you think the “N” in “VIN” represents?

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