Catalytic converter thieves target BART parking lots

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- Imagine parking your car at a BART station, and when you return it's been stripped of its catalytic converter, and even the wheels and tires.

That's what's happening to some unwitting BART riders at some East Bay stations.



"My car was parked right in the vicinity in this row," said Mary Kuhn as she pointed to a spot near the front of the Lafayette BART station.

Kuhn took a short trip from the Lafayette to Oakland last Saturday and was gone for just a couple of hours.

When she returned, she started her older model Honda Accord and knew right away, something was wrong.

RELATED: BART says costs for heavy crackdown on fare evasion would be 'astronomical'

"And immediately, check engine comes on," said Kuhn, "but even worse the sound...whir, whir...I had no idea what was happening."



The service director at Walnut Creek Honda told us he sees it often - cars left at BART parking lots, ravaged by thieves.

"We go out once a month," said David Trzesniewski, "maybe more to the various BART parking lots to retrieve cars where all four tires and rims have been stolen. We do a lot of catalytic converter repairs."

RELATED: Passengers, officials say a lot of work left to do after report shows BART made improvements

"All you do is jack it up... and they're gone in just a couple of minutes. Kind of like the Nascar pit crew," explained Trzesniewski.
As brazen the thefts are, BART police say overall car burglaries have actually dropped 33 percent from this time last year.

Still, 205 catalytic converters were stolen from cars in BART lots in 2018 and 49 so far this year.



RELATED: Person found dead inside bathroom at San Leandro BART station

"They're pretty efficient," said BART Deputy Chief Ed Alvarez. "They're good at what they do. That's their craft. They're out there for a reason. If you don't see them in the minute or two they are under that car, your chances of catching them are diminished."

That's little consolation to Kuhn, who told us she won't put her car in that position, ever again.

"I would never park my car here again," said Kuhn, especially not a Honda."

See more articles and videos about BART.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.