Catalytic converter thefts continue

Sonoma Valley Prius owners nervous as rash of thefts continue.|

If you own a Toyota Prius, you may want to start parking your car in your driveway or even in a garage because since Dec. 22, thieves have made off with at least six catalytic converters in the Valley.

Five of the six were Priuses while the sixth was from a Land Rover.

That’s on top of the three that were chopped from Priuses the last week in November.

On Dec. 22, a resident in the 200 block of Pickett Street told Sonoma Police she discovered that someone had sawed the converter from under her car while it was parked on the street. She checked the video from a security camera and saw that sometime between 3:30 and 3:50 a.m., a black sedan pulled up next to her car and stopped for a bit before moving on. There is no suspect information and the loss was estimated at $3,000.

A resident in the 1300 block of Jones Street told Sonoma Police that he and his wife were watching TV on the evening of Dec. 26 when, sometime between 9:30 and 10 p.m., they heard a grinding noise outside their home. They looked out and saw a dark-colored sedan. The next morning, the owner saw some oil underneath their Land Rover and looked to find the catalytic converter gone. The thief, while sawing through the pipe, hit something else causing the oil to drip. The vehicle owner didn’t have any surveillance cameras.

Thieves hit two Priuses on Dec. 29, one in the city and one in the Valley. A resident of the 700 block of Second Street East called Sonoma Police at 9 a.m. to report that sometime overnight, someone removed the catalytic converter from his Prius that was parked on the street. A Valley resident in the 300 block of Calle Del Monte discovered that, sometime overnight, someone removed the converter from his vehicle.

And the following night, Dec. 30, there were two more incidents in Agua Caliente only blocks apart. One was in the 17000 block of Cedar Avenue and involved a Prius, while the second was reported in the 200 block of East Agua Caliente Road and was also a Prius.

There’s no suspect information, although Sonoma Police Sgt. Mike Baraz said in a couple of the incidents there seemed to be a dark sedan possibly involved.

Catalytic converters, which are located under vehicles, help clean fuel pollutants released from engines. The devices are made from certain precious metals. They’re often targeted by thieves who can remove them quickly from vehicles with high-ground clearance.

While scrap dealers are paying $300 or more for catalytic converters, it can cost victims $1,800 or more to replace it depending on how much damage the thief did.

The Valley and the county experienced a rash of catalytic converter thefts in early 2015 when about 10 were taken locally – while Windsor reported around 30 thefts that same week. There was an earlier string of thefts in 2011 when more than 19 were taken from Valley vehicles.

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