This blog is part of the City's Let's Talk Public Safety Program

Mar 01

Protect Your Car Against Catalytic Converter Theft

Posted on March 1, 2023 at 8:27 AM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Header Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Protect Your Car Against Catalytic Converter Theft

The number of reports filed for stolen catalytic converters has shot through the roof in recent years. In 2019, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported there had been approximately 3,400 cases of catalytic converter thefts across the country, and that number rose to 14,500 the following year. This is a four-time increase in just one year! Still, both these statistics pale in comparison to the 2021 figure when a staggering 50,000 converters were reported stolen!

Clearly, the theft of catalytic converters is a lucrative business for criminals.  We are still waiting for 2022 statistics, but I believe you’re going to see another sharp increase.

Now, you may be scratching your head on what exactly catalytic converters are, and you’re not alone. Catalytic converters are part of your vehicle’s exhaust system and they are designed to control emissions. Their components include precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium that are usually worth more than gold. To give you an idea, there was a point in 2021 when rhodium was worth close to $30,000 per precious metal ounce(oz t). This on top of the fact it only takes a few seconds for an experienced criminal to detach the part from your vehicle, makes it a very appealing crime. Once they have your converter, they can exchange it for cash at a scrapyard.

The Most Targeted Vehicles

The common consensus seems to be that the Prius, Tacoma, Lexus, Accord, and generally all SUVs are some of the most targeted vehicles for catalytic converter theft. However, all vehicles built in or after 1974 have catalytic converters so any vehicle can be targeted for this crime.

How the Crime Occurs

A catalytic converter theft generally happens like this – A criminal will pick a vehicle, park beside it, pull out a jack and a reciprocating saw, lift one side of the vehicle high enough to underneath. They will take the saw and cut the muffler pipes on each side of the converter, and in less than 60 seconds they are driving off with your converter. 

Detecting a Missing Catalytic Converter

You might be asking yourself, “How will I know my converter has been removed?” Well, if you start your car and your once quiet car now sounds like it belongs on a racetrack because it is extremely loud, chances are your catalytic converter is missing. By cutting the exhaust, the combustion sound comes straight out of the pipe without going through the muffler, which causes the loud motor noises. 

Catalytic Converter Theft Protection Devices

There are aftermarket components like a “cat strap” or “cat plate” that you can attach to your catalytic converter to help prevent a theft.  I would recommend you go to a trusted mechanic and discuss this matter.  They can suggest the best device based on your vehicle make and model.

Free Converter Etching Events

One significant problem with catalytic converters is that they are not serialized.  They are not produced with any identifying marks that link it to your specific vehicle. The Diamond Bar Sheriff’s team has been conducting an “etching” program where deputies will go under our car and etch identifying numbers on the converter.  While this won’t prevent it from being stolen, it will help you get it back in the event it is and help prosecute the responsible criminals.  If you’re interested in having your converter etched, come down to the Calvary Chapel Golden Springs (22324 Golden Springs Dr, Diamond Bar, CA 91765) parking lot on the third Wednesday of the month between 9 and 11 a.m.  Appointments are not necessary.

That’s it for this month’s blog. I encourage you to check out the corresponding leaflet and to share it with family members and friends.

PDF Copy of the LeafletHow to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

As always, if you have any public safety-related questions or concerns you want to share with the City or our local sheriff’s station, or if you have suggestions for topics to cover in this blog, be sure to let me know using the online Ask a Deputy form.

Feb 01

Driving Safely in Bad Weather

Posted on February 1, 2023 at 11:37 AM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Safety Tips for Driving in Severe Weather Blog Entry Header

Driving Safely in Bad Weather

Living in California allows us to enjoy a good number of ideal weather days. Nevertheless, there are weather conditions – rain, high winds, fog, snow, and bright sun, to name a few – that can severely affect driving conditions. The recent major rain storms, for instance, contributed to many accidents – many of which could have been avoided or lessened in severity with simple preventive measures. Some of these measures follow:

Cancel or postpone non-essential trips

The first (and best) tip is to cancel or postpone non-essential trips until weather conditions improve. Driving in bad weather is demanding for both you and your vehicles, and you need to decide if the potential danger outweighs your need to get on the road.

Plan ahead, and check weather conditions along your route

If your trip cannot be canceled delayed, then be sure to plan ahead and double-check your route for weather conditions and potential road closures or detours. Use radio or television news or smart phone apps to know what type of weather you will be confronting and which route option will be the safest.  

Pull over and wait for the worst of the weather to pass

If at any time weather worsens and you find it difficult to control your vehicle, pull off the roadway or exit the freeway. If an exit is not nearby, pull over to the shoulder and turn on your hazard lights. If you can, safely exit your vehicle and get to a safe location - limited vision may cause other drivers to not see your car and collide with your vehicle.

Slow down to reduce the risk of hydroplaning

Water plus speed equal hydroplaning, a dangerous condition that happens when your tires can no longer displace water and causes your vehicle to ride on top of the water. Once this happens, you no longer have control of your vehicle and any change of direction in your steering will cause the vehicle to spin in that direction without the ability to make steering corrections. If you feel your vehicle start to hydroplane, do not slam down on your breaks, instead slow down gradually.

Inspect your vehicle to make sure everything is in good working condition

In addition to speeding, another factor that can lead to hydroplaning are worn tires. Make it a practice to continually check your tire thread for wear and replace them when the thread reaches 2/32nds of an inch. Other parts of your vehicle that must be in working order to reduce the likelihood of a rain-related accident include your headlights, tail lights and windshield wipers.

A final note about posted speed signs

Finally, posted speed signs on the roadway apply only to good weather and road conditions. This means, law enforcement can cite you for driving too fast even if you are driving the speed limit if they determine the speed you were going at was unsafe for the conditions. The same rule applies if you are driving too slow and it is impeding the normal flow of traffic.

For additional tips on driving safely during severe weather conditions, check out the following leaflet and share it with friends and family:

PDF Copy of the LeafletSafety Tips for Driving in Severe Weather web img
As always, if you have any public safety-related questions or concerns you want to share with the City or our local sheriff’s station, or if you have suggestions for topics to cover in this blog, be sure to let me know using the online Ask a Deputy form.