Tips from law enforcement to thwart catalytic converter thieves

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(WVTM 13)

CULLMAN, Ala. – With the recent rash of catalytic converter thefts across Cullman County, the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and Cullman Police Department want residents to know how to keep their vehicles safe.

“The key to safety starts with simply locking your doors and making your vehicle seem less desirable to criminals,” Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry said. “If they want in your vehicle bad enough, they can break the window. Make them. Do not make it easy for them. There is a good chance they will move on and find another target. Also make sure to leave nothing visible. Keep everything out of sight when you get out of the vehicle. Do not leave valuables out where anyone can walk by and see them. This should include chargers/cords to your valuables. If those items are visible, criminals will assume the valuable items are hidden inside.”

Gentry also said to be aware that people can be watching as you exit your vehicle.

“Conceal items prior to parking your vehicle; potential thieves may be watching in the parking lot as you move all your valuables to the trunk,” he said. “Also, park safely, not conveniently. Park where it is well lit, highly visible, well traveled and free from obvious obstructions. This will make it difficult for criminals to act without being seen – this includes those wanting to crawl underneath the vehicle to remove the catalytic convertor.”

According to Cullman Police Department Public Relations Officer Adam Clark, catalytic converter replacements are more than $1,500 in most cases.

“Thieves are looking for an easy grab and won’t want to deal with breaking and entering or getting into a confined space,” Clark said. “If the garage isn’t an option at the home, parking in the driveway close to the home makes it more intimidating for thieves to approach, knowing that there’s a real possibility that they’ll appear on a security or doorbell camera at the home or homes nearby. Lighting is also critical. Darkness and shadows invite thieves to come closer without danger of detection, while light makes the home inhospitable to criminals, so providing ample lighting overnight can make a home safer overall.”

Another option, according to Clark, is purchasing and installing a catalytic converter anti-theft device to make it harder to steal.

“Catalytic converter theft is a quick process, so anything owners can do to make it take longer or be a bigger hassle is likely to send the thieves elsewhere,” Clark said. “Having the converter welded into place or welding the bolts so they cannot be turned makes it far more difficult to pull off. Drivers can also consider adding a catalytic converter shield or catalytic converter anti-theft device. Several companies have responded to the increase in thefts by producing after-market devices that can secure and protect a catalytic converter, making it difficult or impossible to remove. Some of these devices resemble a cage that surrounds the converter and a part of the vehicle’s frame, while others look more like a panel that has to be removed with different tools than the thief has likely brought with them.”

If you see suspicious activity or have items stolen from your property, report it to the Cullman Police Department at 256-734-1434, Cullman County Sheriff’s Office at 256-734-0342 or Hanceville Police Department at 256-352-9811.

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