PETALUMA (CBS SF) — Petaluma police arrested two alleged thieves from Sacramento early Sunday morning, recovering seven sawed off catalytic converters from their vehicle.
Police said a 911 call led officers to the Southpoint Boulevard area where they spotted the suspects’ car as it was leaving the city. They pulled it over on U.S. Highway 101 at Lakeville Highway and arrested the two men inside.READ MORE: Berkeley Police Arrest Convicted Sex Offender For Allegedly Accosting Teens, Claiming To Be Police Officer
A search of the vehicle turned up the stolen converters, a car jack and electric tools on the back seat. The arrests came as catalytic converter theft has skyrocketed during the pandemic in the Bay Area.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported in January 2019, 134 U.S. drivers reported catalytic converter thefts and filed claims with their insurance companies. In December 2020, 2,347 claims were filed on stolen catalytic converters.
Crime bureau researchers believe actual thefts are way higher since a lot of people don’t report it or file a claim.
State Farm reported California was among the nation’s worst when it comes to catalytic converter theft claims. The insurance agency has seen thefts jump 175 percent among its customers from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 compared to July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.READ MORE: Foster City Appoints 1st Minority Woman Mayor In 50-Year History
The Berkeley Police Department said in their city, they had 188 catalytic converter thefts in 2019. But that number tripled in 2020 with 594 reported cases.
The rise in thefts is due to the surging value of the precious metals found inside the devices: platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
Because of supply shortages during the pandemic and high demand, rhodium for example has gone up to $11,200 an ounce. That’s worth a lot more than gold, just $1,849 an ounce.
Mechanics said a possible solution is to weld a metal plate to cover the catalytic converter. It’ll slow them down. A car alarm could also scare them away.
Not only is this kind of theft costly, it’s becoming dangerous as well. In at least three separate Bay Area cases this year, thieves shot at the car owners who tried to stop them. Luckily, there were no serious injuries in those shootings.MORE NEWS: Steph Curry Closes In On 3-Pointers Record As Warriors Top Blazers
Insurance companies reported the most common vehicles that thieves target are Toyota Priuses. That’s because each Prius contains two catalytic converters.