Bay Area thieves going after catalytic converters again, here's how to protect yourself from becoming a victim

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A rash of catalytic converter thefts in San Francisco is urging drivers to install a special metal cover.

Workers at the Toyota Shop on Geary Street are seeing an uptick of cars coming in without catalytic converters.

SF Toyota's service manager, Geoff Blackburn says he is seeing "3-4 a day if not more," and added, "Monday's we'll see 5-6."

One of the latest victims of this rash of catalytic converters thefts is Dave Chambers.

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On Thursday, Chambers noticed the theft when he turned on his car and heard a loud noise.

Luz Pena: "How much is this going to cost you?"

Chambers: "The thieves get $500 for the catalytic converter. It's going to cost us $3,600 to replace it."

Blackburn says he's noticed a spike on this theft in the last 30 days.

"It's gotten real bad. Talking to the insurance companies, AAA, State Farm are saying that the majority of their day is spent going out there inspecting these cars," said Blackburn.

Car experts say the vehicle part is cut off in less than 20 minutes. Prius models from 2004 to 2009 as well as the Honda Element are highly targeted.

According to Blackburn, thieves are after coveted metals.

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"There's palladium and platinum inside here (catalytic converter), so they are actually stripping this down and selling the metals," said Blackburn.

The solution mechanics are installing is a cat-shield or the cat-security.

"It's actually riveted on and we give them enough space to work on the car, but it prevents them from cutting it out," said Blackburn.

The metal cover will cost a car owner approximately $400.

San Francisco Police confirmed they've received reports of stolen catalytic converters this year, but did not give specifics on how many.

In Berkeley, police released a map showing a trend of this theft reporting over two dozen thefts of this kind since the beginning of 2020.

Police departments are advising residents to park inside a garage, if possible.
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