Anyone with information about the crimes is urged to contact Berkeley police.
A catalytic converter is a part of the exhaust system that contains precious metals, and a thief may be able to sell one for $200, said the alert from Berkeley police Officer Byron White.
Here is the full text of the Community Alert:
The Berkeley Police Department has noticed a pattern a thefts of catalytic converters in the North Berkeley Hills. Since the beginning of October, there have been six (6) reported thefts of catalytic converters during the overnight hours. Thieves appear to specifically be targeting Toyota pickup trucks and vans. If you have any information about these thefts, please contact the Berkeley Police Departments Property Crimes Unit at (510) 981-5737 or you may anonymously provide information with Bay Area Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
A catalytic converter is a piece of the vehicle’s exhaust system (made of precious metals) that converts toxic emissions to less toxic substances. Because of the rising values of precious metals over time, catalytic converter thefts (as well as the theft of other items containing precious metals—such as brass railings, auto gates, etc.) have become a cost-effective means for suspects to turn a quick buck. From what I understand, a person who steals a catalytic converter can get up to $200 per device.
In the City of Berkeley, the typical Modus Operandi of the catalytic converter suspect is to operate during the nighttime hours—taking advantage of shadows and the darkness of night. The suspect will most likely be equipped with a reciprocating saw (aka: saber saw, sawzall) and some form of bag or backpack to carry the saw and stolen catalytic converters. A catalytic converter thief may be walking on foot, riding a bicycle, or driving a vehicle. When the suspect identifies a vehicle to steal the catalytic converter from, the suspect lies down underneath the rear of the vehicle at the tail pipe. The suspect then utilizes their reciprocating saw to simply cut the catalytic converter from the tail pipe. According to Edmunds.com, a suspect can steal your catalytic converter in under two minutes. The most commonly hit vehicles are SUVs and trucks, especially late-model Toyotas, because they sit higher off the ground—making for easier access.
If you happen to wake at night to a “buzzing” sound coming from the street, look outside to see what’s happening, and see a suspicious person underneath/behind a parked vehicle; You may be witnessing a catalytic converter theft. If you see something like this, immediately report this incident to the Berkeley Police Department.
For Emergencies, dial 911 or (Program (510) 981-5911 for your cell phone).
For Non-Emergencies, dial (510) 981-5900.