The catalytic converter thieves are at it again.
Davis police received five reports of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles on Dec. 27 and 28, according to a crime alert issued this week. Most occurred in West Davis, where the thieves targeted Toyota pickups and sport-utility vehicles during the late-night and early morning hours.
“These thefts are happening in all areas of Davis, but we are seeing a higher rate of thefts in West Davis,” the crime alert says. “This could be attributed to Highway 113 being in close proximity and providing easy access into that area.”
Catalytic converters are devices in a vehicle’s undercarriage that help reduce smog emissions, but also contain precious metals such as platinum. Certain models of Toyotas provide more clearance for thieves to slide underneath the vehicles and remove the parts, oftentimes with reciprocating saws or screwdrivers.
Last week’s thefts bring to 73 the number of catalytic converters that have been ripped from vehicles in Davis since January 2011, police said. Crooks recycle the metal for a quick profit — about $200 by some estimates — but can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,000 to replace.
So rampant were the thefts that, last summer, the Davis Police Department initiated “Operation Cat Scratch” — a temporary free service that enabled owners of targeted Toyota models to have their license-plate or vehicle identification numbers etched onto their catalytic converters.
Police also have advised scrap metal recyclers to ask for identification from and note the license-plate numbers of anyone recycling multiple catalytic converters.
The Davis Police Department urges citizens to keep their vehicles garaged overnight, if possible, and to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.
Anyone with information about these ongoing thefts is asked to call police at (530) 747-5400.
— Reach Lauren Keene at email@example.com or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene