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Story by Sandra Blodget - The Oregon Herald
Published on Sunday May 30, 2021 - 12:17 AM
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PORTLAND, Oregon - A Vancouver man was killed on Thursday morning apparently attempting to steal a catalytic converter from a car at a local repair shop.

The owner said the man was seen on surveillance video about 2 a.m. using a car jack on a Mercedes parked in the shop's parking lot. It seems the jack failed and the car fell, crushing the man. His body was not discovered until sometime after 7 a.m. The owner said his neighbor reported several catalytic converters stolen from his shop recently. The neighbor was hoping to catch the suspect Thursday morning, he said, but he then realized the man wasn't moving. There has been a huge increase in catalytic converter thefts. People often steal catalytic converters because of the precious metals inside. According to the owner of the shop, the man had three or four of the parts in his car already.

Police are warning about a growing number of thieves stealing catalytic converters from cars.

The devices are used to lower emissions, but they're made with precious metals that have been skyrocketing in value.

One of the first signs you know your catalytic converter has been stolen is from the rattling sound. It could mean you are in trouble.

There are two simple reasons. Number 1, stealing a catalytic converter is a relatively simple job – all you need is a disregard for the law and other people's property, a jack, an angle grinder and a few seconds of your time to get the job done. Reason number 2 is that some of the precious metals hidden inside your catalyst are worth more than gold. You can easily make $400 selling a catalytic converter on the black market. While few manufacturers have acknowledged there is a problem with catalytic converter theft, Toyota has stuck its head above the parapet. In a recent press release regarding catalytic converter theft, the company said: "We're doing all we can. We've shared police guidance with customers, and we have developed and reduced the price of a "Catloc' device which can hinder theft and make it more difficult. Toyota teams are urgently exploring new technical possibilities to deter criminals as well."

Toyota is working with the police, as well as talking to government about changes in the law around scrap metal sales that would make it harder for criminals to sell stolen catalysts for cash.

But these are criminal operations and Toyota's scope is therefore limited. A number of police forces are taking action and some forces, such as Nottinghamshire, are also starting awareness campaigns. It is vitally important for anyone who is a victim of this crime to report it to their local police force as quickly as possible. Mostly it remains older cars that are targeted because advances in efficiency and technology mean the latest generations of Toyota catalytic converters contain vastly lower amounts of precious metals, while still doing their job just as well or even better - this means their value for recycling is very low and they are not attractive to thieves. It's a serious problem then and while manufacturers are doing something about it, it will take these changes some time to filter down to the cars you're buying. There's still plenty you can do to prevent yourself becoming a victim though so keep reading for our top ten tips to stop your catalytic convertor getting stolen.