Thieves steal catalytic converters at a Merced dealership

MERCED, Calif.

Thieves stole five catalytic converters from trucks at Razarri Dodge in just one night. But the owner says it is happening everywhere, and anyone with a vehicle can become a victim.

Catalytic converters come in different shapes and sizes, but they all contain precious metals that help reduce pollution as part of a vehicle's exhaust system. That is why they have become a popular target for thieves.

"It's not happening just to us, it's happening to your neighbors, your friends, your associates, employees, it happens at night, it happens in broad daylight," said Tim Razzarri, Razzari dealership owner.

Razzari says criminals hit five trucks at his Dodge dealership in just a matter of minutes Thursday night. It can cost upwards of $8,000 per vehicle to replace the part and repair the damage left behind.

"It's frustrating, for us, the dealership it disables it, we can't sell it, but more importantly the person who goes to work every day, what do you do when you get up in the morning and fire up your car and it sounds like a bad motorcycle?" Razzarri said.

Merced police say the thieves often use hacksaws to cut out the converters.

"They'll either sell them or break them apart and take the metal out of them and sell them to scrap yards that may or may not know where they came from," Lt. Tom Trindad with the Merced Police Department said.

Lt. Trindad says officers are doing extra patrols along Auto Center Drive, where several dealerships have been targeted. And he says residents should report any suspicious activity around cars in their neighborhoods. Drivers can also have their converters welded on at a muffler shop.

"I would suggest that people take preventative maintenance if possible and do something to make it more difficult, that's all you can do," Rizzari said.

Some insurance experts also recommend having your license plate number engraved on your catalytic converter to make it easier to trace. And if you're parking in a public lot, try to find a spot that's easily visible.

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