SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, California is one of the top five states for catalytic converter thefts in the country.
Now, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement are teaming up in an effort to stop those thieves and the businesses they sell to.
Drivers can already get their license plate number etched into their catalytic converters as a way to deter thieves from stealing them.
Police say thieves can get a couple hundred bucks per converter, but the theft can cost drivers thousands of dollars in repairs.
Now, the DA’s office is launching a new approach to prevention.
“It’s important that we not only go after the individuals who crawl under the car and steal the converter but also those who receive that stolen property, profit from it and sell it back out,” said San Joaquin County DA Tori Verber-Salazar. “So we’re hitting everybody from every angle and we’re coming.”
For the next six weeks, Verber-Salazar will partner with law enforcement and meet with different recyclers throughout San Joaquin County to educate them about their responsibilities to help report and crackdown on catalytic converter thefts.
“Many businesses hold a cash payment for three days. They require California identification and a thumbprint, and then they check the logs to see if any property has been reported stolen,” she explained. “And then, they cross-reference that, they notify law enforcement right away. That is a valuable tool.”
The DA’s office says there’s been a surge in converter thefts since the beginning of the pandemic, and they’re doing everything they can to curb it.
“We’ve seen converters in shipping cargoes being shipped out of state and out of country,” Verber-Salazar explained. “I mean, we’re working with Homeland Security, the FBI, state and county local officials. We’re going to bring in every tool and resource to stop this stuff and fully prosecute those responsible for it.”
The DA said the new prevention program is another example of public agencies and private businesses working together to find solutions.
“We need help. We need the community to be our eyes and ears. We need everybody to report it,” she told FOX40.
The San Joaquin County DA and the Tracy police chief will be out visiting with more recyclers and other business owners Tuesday.