2.057 cat theft etc.

Aerobics class. Then looked out to see fairly heavy rain, but the forecast was for clearing later, so put off walkies. Made a new signup sheet for the meal deliverers, and publicized it. At 11, as scheduled, facilities came by to change out the filter on the HVAC units in my ceiling.

Yesterday we had an email alert that there had been a catalytic converter theft from our very parking lot. I had posted a warning to CHBB about this last October, based on frequent complaints on the Neighborhood website. Now I put together an info sheet and posted it. I will append it here. Several people responded appreciatively.

Then I was chatting with my cross-hall neighbor Florrie, as she came back in from what was supposed to be a drive, but in fact she had found her Prius sounding like a dragster. She was a second cat theft victim. She had just sat with James and reviewed the security camera take from two nights back, and yep, there they were — unfortunately the license plate of the thieves didn’t show.

Florrie says she had been considering giving up her car anyway, and she was taking this as a sign it was time to do that. You’ll still have to get it fixed, I said, and sell it? Nope, she has it all figured out; she is donating it to KQED. They’ll take it away and she’ll take a tax write-off.

Daubed a bit more clear coat on two small parts, and decided that although clear coat with a brush is adequate for touch-up it will not do for large areas that have to look good. Must be sprayed. I have two clear coat brands, and I sprayed another coat of the second one on my test piece of plastic. It is not looking good for Mission Models brand; it goes on with a fine orange peel that feels almost like sandpaper. But I’m almost out of the other one, and it will be days before the two bottles I ordered will arrive.

At 2pm it was time for Wanda to clean my unit, the first time in two weeks because of shorthanded staff. At this point I went for an hour’s walk, and still had to kill time in the lounge on return until she was done. Evening entertainment: Battlebots.

What I posted to the in-house bulletin board, CHBB:

We recently had a catalytic converter theft in our own parking lot. This crime is increasingly common, with reports in Palo Alto every week or so. Here is some info about it.
What is a catalytic converter?It is an essential piece of emissions control required on every car from 1974 on. Physically the “cat” is a melon-sized metal bulge in the exhaust pipe. Inside it is a metal honeycomb seeded with small amounts of the precious metals Palladium and Rhodium. These act as a catalyst to speed the conversion of nasty engine exhaust gasses into water and CO2.
Why do thieves want mine?Prices of the rare metals have spiked in recent years. A “cat” is worth $100 and more as scrap. The converters on hybrid cars are preferred because they get less wear, so there is more residual metal. The ones on Priuses are especially easy to get at, but other makes and models are also hit.

How do the thieves take it?It is easy to remove the cat if you don’t care about the condition of the vehicle afterward. You jack the car up a few inches with a portable hydraulic jack. You roll under the car with a battery-powered electric saw. You cut through the exhaust pipe ahead of and behind the cat. Roll out, throw the saw, cat, and jack into the trunk of your car, and drive off. It can take as little as 60 seconds. Here are videos that show actual thefts:
Theft on a street in England, total operation complete in just over 60 seconds:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybMIkySaXk
In broad daylight with getaway car double-parked. You can hear the saw working:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUlikgzaDOE
How will I know it happened?Oh, you’ll know! Your exhaust pipe has been cut open just after the engine, ahead of the muffler. Your car will sound like a dragster, or a water-ski tow boat. VRROOM!
What will it cost to repair?By California law the cat must be replaced with a factory part. Toyota charges $2,000 and up to replace one. On the Prius there is an exhaust temperature sensor just in front of the cat. The thief will often cut through that, which adds a few hundred to the bill.
Will insurance cover it?Only if you have the optional “comprehensive” coverage. Check your policy. With comprehensive you will pay a deductible, typically $500 or less. Without it, you pay it all.
Can cat theft be prevented?Yes, muffler shops and some dealerships will install a metal plate that blocks access to the converter, making theft impractical. This costs from $200 to $500.
Hope people find this informative,

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