Local program aims to help identify stolen catalytic converters

A new partnership is working to help car owners on the Central Coast as catalytic converter theft remains a problem.

Rizzoli’s Automotive CEO said these types of thefts ultimately come down to where the catalytic converter is placed and the age of the vehicle. Newer vehicles are a bigger target.

It only takes a few seconds to steal a catalytic converter.

“I’m not the first and certainly not the last,” said San Luis Obispo resident Tiffany Burdine.

A growing trend that has affected hundreds of people on the Central Coast and now many are expressing their frustration.

“It’s extremely frustrating because we had to go without a car for about four months,” said San Luis Obispo resident Erika Perez.

In Grover Beach, 40 thefts of catalytic converters were reported to police last year, up from five in 2020.

The Grover Beach Police Department has partnered with Rizzoli’s in a free burning program to not only prevent catalytic converter thefts, but to hold thieves accountable.

“What the burn does is it allows us as law enforcement, when we arrest these people, and they have several of them in their back seat, we can track it down to a victim. Without a casualty we can’t prosecute, which is where the engraving really helps us,” said Grover Beach PD Commanding Officer Jim Munro.

Burning is a process where a serial number or license number is burned into the converter to identify it.

“What we do is a free and free consultation on catalytic converters. We will examine your vehicle to see if your vehicle is indeed at risk of being stolen, if so, we will etch your catalytic converter with your identification number free of charge,” said Rizzoli’s Automotive CEO Kyle Rizzoli.

Grover police say they hope this program deters thieves. Those affected by this crime have a message for people who take these expensive coins.

“Stop doing it and just put yourself in the shoes of the people who are going through this and having their catalytic converter stolen,” Perez said.

Rizzoli’s schedules catalytic converter consultations at all of their locations, including Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, and Grover Beach.

Ryan H. Bowman