Catalytic converter thefts target Toyota Tacoma pickups, 4Runners

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Police say over a dozen catalytic converters have been stolen from Toyota pickup trucks in the area since mid-February.

Lt. Jim Zessin with Corvallis Police Department said the thefts started in northern Corvallis, and the last three have been in Oregon State University Parking Lots. Mainly Toyota 4Runners and Toyota Tacoma's have been targeted.

D & B Bear Service in Corvallis repaired one of the victims' cars Friday.

"He got up to go to work and his car was very noisy and the pipe was hanging," Steve Graves an employee at D & B Bear Service said.

Catalytic converters control emissions in vehicles.

Graves said the catalytic converter was removed by unscrewing the bolts. He said it would only take someone a few minutes to remove with simple tools.

"I think they pick a favorite, a car that is easy to get to, a car that is easy to get under. Cars they know have a bigger value to them," Graves said.

Graves has seen this type of crime before and says catalytic converters have precious metals like platinum that can be scrapped for cash.

"It's just blatant disregard for peoples property. Just somebody trying to get $40 and it cost somebody else. Some catalytic converters run as high as $800," Graves said.

Corvallis Police contacted local scrap metal companies about the string of thefts and put them on alert.

Burcham's Metals in Albany turned over any information they have on customers who recently came in to sell catalytic converters.

"We also get their drivers license and scan that into our system, their license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle. They are on camera as well," Jay Burcham, owner of Burcham's Metal's said.

He says they do everything they can to help police in metal theft cases.

For victims or those who want to protect their vehicles there is a simple fix that will only cost you about $25.

"We are putting welds on the bolts and nuts so it makes it impossible for somebody to unbolt them. Somebody would have to torch them off," Graves said.