Imagine this scene: You walk out to your car, start it up, and leave campus. Everything seems fine until suddenly your car starts making a strange sound and the dashboard warning lights signal a problem. Someone may have swiped your catalytic converter—and you may have been the target of an increasingly common form of car vandalism.
Catalytic converters are valuable to thieves because they are made of precious metals like platinum and palladium as part of the exhaust system to control vehicle emissions. They can be sold for $600 or more. This kind of vandalism is hard to detect because it does not require thieves to enter the vehicle. The suspects often work in pairs—one as a lookout, while the other quickly cuts the converter from underneath the vehicle.
According to U police, from May 2009 to the present, catalytic converter thefts on campus have been taken exclusively from Nissan and Toyota trucks. Large parking lots are the most common location for thefts, particularly O lots and the hospital parking terrace. During 2012, there were 12 converter thefts on campus. As of today, there haven’t been any prosecutions for those thefts.
- Report people who are driving through parking lots who have no intention of parking (driving by many open parking places), or those who stop by or walk around Toyota or Nissan 4-wheel drive trucks.
- Report anyone who is under a vehicle.
- If possible, park your own vehicle near a camera or a heavily traveled area.
- Report odd or unusual behavior in parking lots by calling 801-585-2677.
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