Malibu/Lost Hills hosts first catalytic converter etching event in Malibu

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Malibu Auto Care Manager Matt Wicksman etches participants’ license plates on their vehicles during the catalytic converter etching event at the Chevron Gas Station on Thursday, May. 26. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station has recently seen a dramatic rise in the number of catalytic converters being stolen from parked vehicles. While they contain copper, platinum, and metals inside, they are relatively easy to steal by simply unbolting or cutting through. Thieves take the stolen converters to a metal recycler who can pay up to $150 because of the precious metals inside.

Vehicle owners can take steps to mitigate or prevent these types of thefts from occurring. In efforts to help residents from becoming victims of converter theft, the Malibu/Lost Hills Station Community Relations Team has organized several free etching converter events throughout Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, with its first event in Malibu last Thursday, May 26. 

The event was well attended, with the reservation slots being filled within one day of the event announcement. 

Deputy Brian Knott said they were overwhelmed with reservations.

“Our community relations team is followed by other agencies, so we are very involved in the streamlining,” Knott said. 

As for converter thefts in the Malibu area, Knott said it varies in cities, but it’s still consistent.

In March this year, State Farm released its claims data from 2021, which not only shows a 1,171 percent increase nationally in catalytic converter thefts since 2019, but also that auto parts theft in general has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, according to the claims data, State Farm says California ranks first in the country for both auto parts thefts and catalytic converter thefts, with more than three out of 10 claims being filed in the Golden State.

In 2019, State Farm said it paid $2.5 million for 1,104 catalytic converter theft claims in California. That increased to over $23 million for 9,057 catalytic converter theft claims in 2021.

To prevent a catalytic converter from being stolen, etching the license plate number onto the catalytic converter can be a deterrent and can save thousands of dollars to replace it. Law enforcement will be able to enter the converter into a statewide database for stolen property. This will help in identifying the victim and apprehending and prosecuting the thieves.

Among other ways drivers can protect their vehicle is to park inside a garage or in well-lit areas, installing a sensitive alarm system, having a security camera pointing at your car in its usual parking spot, or engraving your VIN on your car’s catalytic converter. To report any suspicious activity, call (818) 878-1808. Call 911 if there is a crime in progress. 

For more information, visit the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station on Facebook and @LHSLASD on Twitter to be aware of the next event.