With just a few minutes, a jack, a wrench and a cordless saw, a thief can make off with a car’s catalytic converter — and create expensive headaches for vehicle owners and law enforcement agencies alike.

A growing problem with the theft of catalytic converters — the devices that scrub pollutants from the exhaust of cars, trucks and SUVs — has accelerated over the past three years, according to local police agencies and automotive crime-fighting advocates. The rate of thefts doubled in the city of Napa from 2020 and 2021, and went up fivefold in American Canyon to the south, with little slowdown evident so far this year. 

After recording only 18 thefts of catalysts through 2019, the city of Napa witnessed 112 in 2020 followed by 241 more last year, according to Lt. Chase Haag. Twenty-one more vehicles had their devices stolen through Feb. 9, a pace close to that of 2021.

Read the entire article. Napa Valley Register, by Howard Yune, updated March 15, 2022