A thief or thieves struck a series of Morgan Hill vehicles overnight Monday, stealing parts they likely intended to turn in for their recycling value, police said.
The unknown suspect or suspects stole the catalytic converters from seven Toyota pickups or sports-utility vehicles, from about 11 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday, according to Morgan Hill police Capt. Jerry Neumayer.
Police have not arrested anyone in relation to the thefts, and have not identified a suspect.
Such thefts are on the rise throughout the Bay Area, Neumayer said. Catalytic converters, which regulate the vehicles’ carbon emissions, are composed of precious metals that can fetch a modest price when recycled as scrap. A single scrap catalytic converter is worth up to $120, according to a number of Internet services that buy and sell scrap metal.
Neumayer said all seven catalytic converters stolen this week were removed from the vehicles by removing the bolts that fastened them to the cars.
The thefts were scattered throughout Morgan Hill, and were not confined to a particular neighborhood or street, Neumayer said.
Police added that two suspects were recently arrested in Watsonville for their alleged involvement in similar crimes there, but Neumayer said he does not yet know if they were also involved in the local thefts.
In early January, at least two residents reported similar thefts in the Creekside Village apartment complex, police said. Both of those incidents also involved Toyota vehicles.
After those incidents, police said the thieves target Toyota pickups and SUVs because they have a high ground clearance, making it easier for the thieves to crawl underneath and remove the parts.
Vehicle owners can take some precautions to avoid being victims of such theft, police said. These include parking the vehicle in well-lit areas, an area where there’s a lot of traffic or in a fenced area. To assist in the recovery of the parts and the arrest of a suspect, police also recommend vehicle owners engraving their license plate number on the catalytic converters, or enlisting a muffler shop to reinforce the part’s attachment mechanism to the car’s frame.
The incidents are still under investigation. Anyone with information or who has been victimized may call Morgan Hill police at (408) 779-2101.