by Monica Gallegos | Staff Writer |
As catalytic converter theft rises in the state, the crime is also affecting students in the CSUSB parking lots.
Arnold Briseno, a CSUSB student, parked his ’94 Toyota 4runner in front of University Hall on Sept. 20 and returned to find his catalytic converter had been stolen.
“I came to go to work at 4 p.m. and got back to my car at 8 p.m., turned on my car and something sounded bad,” said Briseno, “Luckily I had AAA so I was able to get a tow truck home, but the part had to be replaced.”
A catalytic converter is a device in a car that converts toxic exhaust emissions from the internal combustion engine to non-toxic substances. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, all cars manufactured after 1975 are required to have a catalytic converter.
A catalytic converter can contain expensive metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, and that makes it a valuable piece to sell illegally.
According to Briseno, he was just another victim of a common crime that has been drastically increasing in recent years.
“The AAA guy told me that people will literally go to parking lots to steal these (catalytic converters) and they mostly target late model Toyotas,” said Briseno, adding “They use drill bits to take out the part and then sell it for a good price.
Right after the incident, Briseno reported the theft to campus police, but they were unable to do much because of blocked cameras.
“Campus police tried their best. They made a report, but the cameras that were recording were covered by trees, so all they were able to tell me was that there were bolts left over,” said Briseno.
However, Briseno felt that because he paid $102 for parking fees that his car would be better protected on campus.
“We pay $102 for parking so you’d think we’d have cameras that could help,” said Briserno.
According to Ron Profeta, director of parking services at CSUSB, anytime someone parks their car, it is at risk for having items stolen.
“In any public area: malls, stores, schools, there is that risk,” said Profeta.
“We do have that advantage of having police on campus, but unfortunately it happens,” continued Profeta.
Profeta explained that it is not the first time he has heard of a catalytic converter being stolen, but he hasn’t heard of it occurring in the campus parking lot.
“It’s a well sought out item because of what’s in it. I’ve had it taken myself before in front of my house,” said Profeta.“If you have a lifted car it is easy to steal and costs over $500 to replace.”
Parking Services encourages students with lifted cars and late model Toyotas to be aware of the crime and make sure their cars are secured.
However, for students like Briseno, parking out in front of University Hall isn’t worth the risk again.
“I’m just going to park in the structure from now on, and hopefully it won’t happen again,” said Briseno.