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Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence said in a report Thursday that the city saw an overall 6% decline in major crime categories during 2020, although thefts of catalytic converters grew at an explosive rate.
While vehicle burglaries dropped by 11% compared to 2019, Lawrence said catalytic converter thefts increased by 468% in 2020, from just 35 thefts reported in 2019 to a total of 205 thefts reported last year.
Lawrence described the theft of catalytic converters as “a rash” in the region and across the state, particularly in the Bay Area. He said Citrus Heights police have “been working very closely with our allied partners on combating this.”
Catalytic converters are a valuable part of a vehicle’s exhaust system that help reduce emissions. Police say thieves will steal the part and sell the raw material inside as scrap.
Toyota Prius vehicles are a common target for thieves, with replacement costs of a catalytic converter fetching up to $3,000. Stolen converters from such vehicles can net several hundred dollars for thieves.
Several arrests of catalytic converter theft suspects were announced by Citrus Heights police last year. One arrest was made shortly after the department posted an advisory asking for residents to report suspicious behavior related to such thefts.
In an email to The Sentinel on Saturday, Lawrence said his department is planning another catalytic converter etching event in the near future, which can aid police in recovery efforts. A prior etching event was held last year at Pastor’s Auto Care in partnership with the Police Department.
The police chief also recommended the following prevention tips:
- Park your vehicle in an area with good lighting and near building entrances or places with foot traffic.
- Park inside a garage if you have one, and keep your garage door closed when not in use.
- Consider having a mechanic weld your catalytic converter to your car, making it more difficult for thieves to steal.
- Engraving your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) onto your catalytic converter assists police with recovery efforts, and also informs scrap dealers that the item may have been stolen.
- Have a car alarm installed.
- Join your local Neighborhood Watch.
A followup article with additional crime statistics from 2020 will be published in The Sentinel’s March 18th Midweek Edition. Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam. (Click here)
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