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Queens Chronicle

NYPD warns of auto part theft on the rise

Converters taken for precious metals

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Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:30 am

The Community Affairs Bureau of the NYPD is warning city residents of a growing problem with the theft of catalytic converters from automobiles.

Since 1975, all vehicles produced in the United States must have a catalytic converter as part of the exhaust system. It is an emissions-control device containing precious metals such as platinum.

With the price of precious metals skyrocketing, thieves are taking the risk to cut it from the underbelly of vehicles. You might learn it has been stolen when your vehicle starts with a gravelly roar.

Stolen converters are sold to scrapyards for around $100 to $150, but the cost could be higher, including the hassle of a vehicle that can’t be safely driven, and the expense of being towed to a local repair shop.

Thieves typically look for vehicles parked for prolonged periods in large lots, such as shopping centers, mass transit commuter lots or company parking lots.

Vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as trucks, pickups and SUVs, are particularly vulnerable because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle to gain access. With just a few cuts of a battery-powered saw, the converter can be stolen in less than a minute.

To prevent catalytic converter theft, use common sense and follow these tips:

• Always park in well-lighted areas;

• At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic;

• If you work at a business or factory, park within a fenced-in area that’s busy during the day and secured at night;

• Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable;

• Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with just the slightest motion;

• Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with hardened steel welded to the frame; and

• Examine the theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online.

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