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Catalytic converter thieves strike in Palm Beach Gardens over weekend

Thefts like these have increased this year
Catalytic converter, May 12, 2022
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 19:54:51-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A woman visiting Palm Beach Gardens called WPTV Contact 5 after her catalytic converter was stolen from her brand new vehicle at a hotel over the weekend.

"We started my car and it sounded like a race car,” Pamela Vidi told Contact 5.

That was Vidi's first clue that something wasn’t right.

“There was metal pieces laying under the ground underneath. I called the hotel and told them,” Vidi said.

The catalytic converter on her brand new 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander was missing. She said it was stolen while she was parked at a Palm Beach Gardens DoubleTree while she was in town for a baseball tournament.

“We only had it for three weeks. So it was extremely frustrating. I still don’t have it fixed because I’m like, where do I even begin?” Vidi said.

Vidi said after calling a few places, she learned a new catalytic converter will cost her at least $1,000.

“I’m like, man, if I would have just known that these were high targeted. Because there are things that you can do to your catalytic converters to prevent thieves from taking them,” Vidi said.

When Contact 5 spoke with local mechanic Ron Katz last month, he said one of those precautions includes installing a cage around your catalytic converter, but that can get pricey.

Another precaution is having your vehicle identification number etched on the converter, which Katz is now doing for free at his Midas shop in West Palm Beach.

“If customers will call us, if it’s not one of our customers, we ask them for the VIN number. We are more than happy to do that. There are other Midases around the country now that are also starting this initative,” Katz said.

According to BeenVerified, nationwide, there have been an estimated 26,000 catalytic converter thefts so far this year. That’s a 33.5% increase year-over-year.

Here locally, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, between January 2022 and April 2022, there were 62 cases in the county.

Officials with the West Palm Beach Police Department tell Contact 5 they’ve had 32 cases so far this year.

“No specific hot spots or areas per se, but there are some steps that people can do to minimize the risk of having their catalytic converters stolen,” Mike Jachles, spokesperson for West Palm Beach police, said.

One of those precautions is parking your vehicle inside, if you can.

“If not, it’s important to park in a well-lit, well-traveled area,” Jachles said.

It’s a lesson Vidi learned the hard way.

“Little things like that can prevent somebody from doing the same thing to your vehicle,” Vidi said.

According to CarFax.com, theses vehicles are the most targeted vehicles for catalytic converter thefts:

  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series pickup trucks (F-150, F-250, etc.)
  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord
  • 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline vans
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks
  • 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
  • 2011-17 Chrysler 200
  • 2001-21 Toyota Prius
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