SAN DIEGO - Sheriff's deputies in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea want to warn residents about a series of thefts. Thieves are stealing catalytic converters literally out from underneath vehicles on the street.
"They taking these converters and selling them to non-credible recyclers," said Ed Hanson of Hanson's Muffler Service in Casa De Oro.
Hanson said he usually sees about two to six vehicles a month with converters missing.
"As soon as owners start up their truck, that's when they know," he said.
The converter is essentially a smog filter in the exhaust system, but they are especially problematic for Toyota Tacoma pickup owners because the bolts that hold it in place can be easily removed.
The thefts are not unique to the North County but it just happens to be the latest place where multiple thefts have occurred. In 2012, more than a half dozen vehicles were targeted at a San Diego State University parking lot.
Replacing a converter can range anywhere from $600 to $1,000. Hanson is offering a fix for Tacoma owners at his Casa De Oro shop.
"I'll tac-weld the bolts for free. I don't care whose muffler shop you go to, I will weld the bolts for free," he said.
It is no guarantee but it could be an ounce of prevention.