Catalytic converter thefts on the rise in San Leandro

Bay Area

“This is a perfect example. They chopped one catalytic converter.”

Every Monday, Victor Hernandez says at least five customers drop their cars off for repairs at his shop VIC Mufflers and Auto Repair in San Leandro.

After discovering one or more catalytic converters have been ripped off of their vehicles, the damaged cars are all over his lot.

“It’s a straight nightmare for everybody, I can tell you that,” said mechanic Victor Hernandez.

In fact, Victor says thieves break into his shop every other week.

Stealing catalytic converters from cars awaiting other repairs.

Recently, a crew knocked down his gate to gain entry in broad daylight.

“End of the day, everybody’s losing, you know, it’s not fair. And there’s nothing we can do other than putting many cars inside that we can, but it’s hard. We’re losing business too, you know, because we cannot store anything outside.”

Acting San Leandro police captain Ali Khan says on Sunday an officer recovered 16 stolen catalytic converters during a traffic stop.

One of two busts made within a week.

But overall, he says criminals have the upper hand.

“Year-to-date, thus far, we’ve seen a 65-percent increase in San Leandro related to catalytic converter thefts,” said captain Ali Khan.

He says 142 catalytic converter thefts were reported all of last year.

117 have already been reported this year.

And, thieves are not just targeting the Toyota Prius.

Hybrids, trucks, and SUVs are getting hit too.

Often during the early morning hours.

“Park your vehicle inside a garage if you potentially can. Just eliminates the possibility of them, the suspects looking for your vehicle out in the street. If you do have to park in the street, park in a well-lit area. Preferably somewhere where surveillance camera captures your vehicle.”

You can also invest in a protective shield for your catalytic converter, but this mostly just slows thieves down.

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