Many drivers love Toyotas for their long history of dependability, but Toyota's reputation has now caught the eye of thieves who love them for their parts. " Went to get in to start it up and it sounded like an airplane engine, It was loud. So we stopped immediately and had a mechanic come over, he went under their and saw that the catalytic converter had been taken", said San Jose resident Christine Carriere. San Jose resident Christine Carriere was stunned to find she had fallen victim to thieves over the weekend. Her 97 Ttoyota 4Runner now sits with no catalytic converter after it was stolen off the vehicle Friday night in Willows, almost putting an end to her vacation to Lake Shasta. " We got off to our vacation a little later than we'd hoped, it was inconvenient", said Carriere.
Carriere isn't alone, Willows police say at least six Toyotas were hit over the weekend, and from each one the catalytic converter was taken. " Most of the vehicles have been Toyota 4Runners and Toyota pickups", said Detective Troy McIntyre from the Willows Police Department.
Toyota SUV's and pickups are targeted primarily because their higher off the ground, making it easy for thieves to get underneath them. Toyota's are especially vulnerable because their catalytic converter is simply bolted on. Thieves are mostly after the parts for their valuable metals including platinum, palladium and rhodium, and Toyotas' catalytic converters will also fit on several models, making them an easy sell as replacement parts. " The mechanic said they were probably able to get this thing off in 30 seconds or even faster", said Carriere.
Police are still working leads, but say for now their telling toyota owners to stay vigilant. " If you have a camera, maybe throw up a camera on your car to catch anybody that's in and around your car", said McIntyre. " I'm gonna see if I can get something to bracket it better or make it a little more inconvenient for these people", said Carriere.
If you have one, you should always park your vehicle in your garage at night. You can also have the bolts on your catalytic converter welded on to deter thieves or you can buy a catalytic converter protective sleeves from you car's manufacturer, but they are a bit pricey.