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The Sheriff’s Department warns of catalytic converter thefts in the San Marcos area

SAN MARCOS, Calif. — The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is warning of a recent spike in catalytic converter thefts in the San Marcos area.

Just last week, lawmakers arrested a group of three thieves who were caught trying to steal catalytic converters on the 700 block of Lupine Drive. At least 4 other catalysts were found in their possession.

“Most people have no idea how much it costs until it happens to them,” said Victor Banuelos, owner of Centric Auto Repair in San Marcos.

A catalytic converter thief can be under your car in minutes, with the precious metal in and out, and the victim can face a costly repair.

“I’ll give you an example, a Prius. Right now they’re about $4,500 for the parts and installation,” Banuelos said.

It’s a crime that’s on the rise across San Diego County and the state, with California legislators even proposing legislation to crack down on catalytic converter theft.

Banuelos says his workshop used to fix maybe one stolen catalytic converter a year, but now it’s become a weekly occurrence.

The Sheriff’s Department has hosted VIN etching events, and there are also newer security measures, like installing an alarm or sign.

“It takes the thief over an hour to get in, as opposed to about three minutes to get under your car, pull out the catalytic converter and run,” Banuelos said.

Authorities say the latest suspects in San Marcos were not from the area. Although the department has received about a dozen reports of catalytic converter thefts in the area in the past 90 days, Banuelos believes many more cases remain unreported.

“Most of the time, people don’t even know what happened to them,” he said. “They bring it in and when they find out they don’t even make a report because they’re already in business. They usually make the decision to fix it or buy a new car.”

Banuelos says the price of what thieves can get for the metal in a catalytic converter is also increasing. What used to sell for around $800 can now cost upwards of $1,000.

The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone who sees suspicious activity to call 858-565-5200.

https://fox5sandiego.com/news/local-news/sheriffs-department-warns-of-catalytic-converter-thefts-in-san-marcos-area/ The Sheriff’s Department warns of catalytic converter thefts in the San Marcos area

Sarah Y. Kim

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