SAN DIEGO — With a rise in catalytic converter thefts around San Diego County, authorities are offering some precautionary tips to residents.

The first step is familiarizing yourself with the device.

What are catalytic converters and why do thieves want them?

Well, catalytic converters are a key component of a car’s emissions control system, CARFAX, a company that provides vehicle data to individuals, explained. The purpose of the device is to aid in reducing the amount of pollution coming out of the tailpipe.

There are rare metals inside of these auto parts, which include platinum, palladium or rhodium. State Farm, an auto insurance company, said these metals can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars. This makes them valuable for those trying to make some quick cash.

The next step is knowing what signs to look for and how to prevent theft. North County authorities offered up some advice on Thursday.

Tips from Oceanside police to prevent catalytic converter theft

  • Be aware of suspicious behavior. Police said most people do not do construction work in the late night or early morning hours, so the sound of a saw during those times could indicate that a theft is occurring in the area. Authorities encouraged the public to report suspicious sounds or activity immediately.
  • Park smart. Police advised those who have a garage to take advantage of it by always parking their vehicles inside. For those who don’t have a garage, police advised them to park in a well-lit driveway that’s monitored by camera surveillance. They also suggested setting up car alarms that will go off when vibrations are sensed.
  • Cage your converter. Police said a rebar cage can be welded around converters to keep thieves at bay. This can be done at a muffler shop. A list of some shops in San Diego can be found here. Another option is to purchase a lock designed to go on converters. Police said the cost of these preventative measures is less than having to replace the device.
  • Check with your auto insurance. According to police, some policies may cover anti-theft device installation or offer a discount on insurance plans for installing a protection device. They also suggested checking to see what deductibles would be for replacing a stolen device.

While analyzing claims of theft nationwide, State Farm found California at the top of the list with a whopping 10,577 catalytic converter thefts reported between July 2021 and June 2022. In comparison to other states, California has significantly more of these occurrences than the rest of the nation.

A list of the the top targeted vehicles for catalytic converter theft, according to CARFAX, can be found here.

Authorities also reminded the public to never attempt to stop thieves who are caught in the act, as this can be dangerous. Instead, they said to contact law enforcement and provide a detailed description of the suspects and their vehicles.

Police said that while this is a difficult crime to combat, taking proactive steps to keep vehicles safe can lessen the chances of this happening to you.