BAKERSFIELD, California (KGET) — While the pandemic has cut out time on the road it’s also been a catalyst for catalytic converter thefts. Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise for years, but why the sudden spike in cases? Since the start of the pandemic Bakersfield Police Department, detectives say they have seen a significant spike in the number of reports of stolen catalytic converters, probably due to the higher unemployment rates caused by the pandemic.
The call comes in and almost immediately mechanics all over town know what the issue is a stolen catalytic converter. These devices convert bad toxic emissions from your car into less toxic pollutants in the air.
Chris Candelaria, also known as Skinny, owner of Skinny’s Automotive, says “It’s important for California because of the emissions California has and trying to eliminate as much smog as possible, having a vehicle that puts out as little emissions as possible.”
In California there has been a decrease in the manufacturing of catalytic converters, making them more lucrative to sell and less affordable to replace. A huge part of the problem are the scrap and recycle shops that purchase catalytic converters from people.
“There’s basically three metals in there, it’s platinum, palladium, and rhodium and those metals are more expensive than gold that’s why the metals are so sought after,” said Candelaria
The spot price for platinum is around $1100 per ounce, palladium around $2600 per ounce, and rhodium is around a whopping $28,000 per ounce.
“Well, it only takes a couple of minutes to make a couple of hundred bucks. On the black market, they can go anywhere from, it all depends on the converter from $200-$600,” Candelaria said.
BPD says It takes these thieves as little as 10-15 seconds to get out of their car, under your car, and remove the catalytic converter. Since the beginning of the year, BPD has had over 430 reports of stolen catalytic converters. Just the week before last there were two arrests made for catalytic converter thefts, but in the past eight months, 19 arrests have been made.
“We’re trying to do investigations right now we’ve made numerous arrests; we’re actually working, we are doing some undercover operations that we’ve been working with,” said BPD Detective, Jessica Amos.
Those who are stealing catalytic converters face felony charges for grand theft and depending on the circumstances they could also be charged for burglary.
BPD will also be posting some informational videos in the next week or so and will be announcing a community event to bring awareness to Catalytic Converter safety.
Skinny’s automotive suggests these 5 tips to keep your car and catalytic converter safe: