SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KRON) – Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, an easy crime of opportunity for people who have lost work, according to officials.
Taking just 30 seconds to steal, the car part, full of valuable precious metals, can cost up to $1,500 to replace.
Thieves typically target the Toyota Prius and other high clearance vehicles like Amit Kumar’s Jeep, who had his catalytic converter stolen.
“I haven’t fixed it since I park it on the street,” Kumar said. “I have a fear that they will steal it again.”
Sunnyvale Police reported 220 catalytic converter thefts in 2020, compared to just 19 in 2019. Already there have been 80 reports in 2021.
“You have a lot of people parked at home and if you have someone driving around looking for catalytic converters to steal they have quite a few to chose from,” said Sunnyvale Police Capitan Craig Anderson. “With the shutdowns that occurred across the country people are looking for ways to make extra money.”
Efforts to fight back against the crime include “etch and catch,” or marking units to make the traceable, as well as installing cages around the converters.