Public Safety

Auto part thefts on the rise in Cedar Rapids

Police warn drivers to protect their vehicles

Catalytic converters help reduce emissions and contains tiny beads of platinum and other precious metals. There was a ra
Catalytic converters help reduce emissions and contains tiny beads of platinum and other precious metals. There was a rash of thefts from Cedar Rapids businesses last month. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids police said investigators have seen a recent increase in thefts of car parts or accessories and warned owners to be vigilant about protecting their vehicles.

The police department said January saw 28 reported thefts of motor vehicle parts, which is an increase of more than 133 percent compared to the five-year average for the month.

The majority of the increase is attributed to the theft of catalytic converters.

Since November, about 30 catalytic converters have been stolen from vehicles, police said.

The majority of thefts have occurred between midnight and 5 a.m. The thefts have occurred in all quadrants of the city, with many happening in apartment parking lots.

Catalytic converters — which contain precious metals like platinum — are exhaust emission control devices that reduce toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas.

When the catalytic converter is removed, the vehicle will make a loud roaring sound, getting louder as the driver pushes on the gas.

Because the exhaust isn’t working properly, the vehicle also drives rougher than usual and may make a “sputtering” sound.

Police said they’re working with scrap dealers, who are checking the identification of anyone attempting to sell catalytic converters.

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To prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen, the police department offers the following tips:

• Park your vehicle inside your garage and keep all garage doors shut and locked.

• If you have to park your vehicle in the driveway or street, park in well-lit areas or consider installing outdoor lighting.

• In parking lots, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances if possible.

• Install and aim surveillance cameras toward your parked vehicle.

• Set your car alarm, if applicable, to detect any movement or vibration.

• Report any suspicious activity to police by calling (319) 286-5491.

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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