Increase in Catalytic Converter Thefts

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office urges residents to be aware and vigilant about increasing catalytic converter thefts throughout the county, occurring in densely populated neighborhoods as well as in rural areas. Unfortunately, this pattern aligns with a rising crime trend seen in other California counties. In 2021, 276 catalytic converter thefts have been reported in Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction alone. 

The community is advised to be alert and mindful of protecting their vehicles to avoid being victims of this increasing crime trend. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office-Criminal Investigation Bureau statistical data indicates the most targeted vehicles are Honda Accords, Toyota Prius, and Ford F250 – F350 series trucks.

The suspects quickly get underneath a vehicle and cut the exhaust metal pipes to and from the catalytic converter with an electric saw. Surveillance videos show the theft being completed in less than two minutes while an accomplice waits in a nearby getaway car. The catalytic converters are then sold and stripped for their valuable metals. 

To reduce the risk of falling a victim, the Sheriff’s Office has the following theft prevention tips:

  • Keeping your vehicle in a locked garage or a well-lit area close to your home. 
  • Setting up cameras to record the parking area can help as a deterrent and in the investigation.
  • Installing anti-theft devices to make a catalytic converter harder to remove.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Detectives review and monitor all reported thefts and suspect information. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office encourages county residents to report suspicious activity by calling the non-emergency dispatch phone number 805-683-2724 or calling 911 to report a crime in progress.

If you have information about an existing catalytic converter theft, please contact the Sheriff’s Detective Bureau at 805-681-4150.