Crooks trying to make a quick buck in Merced by stealing catalytic converters.

Merced Police is issuing a warning to driver to be on the lookout but this string of thefts is also happening in other parts of the Central Valley.
Lieutenant Jay Struble said in the last three months his agency has seen an increase in catalytic converter thefts.

He said this crime is not new and when it comes to catalytic converters crooks have their favorites.

“The main ones are the newer model Toyota’s and it’s mainly the Tacoma pickups and Toyota Sequoias for some reason those tend to be a the hot commodity for stealing catalytic converters off,” Struble said.

The phone has been ringing non-stop at Mike’s Radiator and Muffler in Merced.

Owner Mike Hausmann said his repair shop has already fixed eight vehicles this week alone.

“What they do is they take a sawzall or a pipe cutter and they just run around the pipe, they can get these things out of the vehicle in two or three minutes,” Hausmann said.

He said the repair costs can run anywhere from 800 to 1,200 dollars depending on the vehicle.

Fresno Police said they’ve had 42 reports of catalytic converters stolen from May 1 to August 6.

In Merced, 28 converters theft were reported from April to July, and in Visalia six were reported stolen in the last two months.

Law enforcement said one of the best ways to guard your vehicle is to park where it’s well lit.