West Seattle Crime Watch: Catalytic-converter theft; mailbox casing

Two West Seattle Crime Watch reader reports tonight – first, from Patrice:

Thought you might like to know that my catalytic converter, muffler, tailpipe were all stolen right off of my car sometime Monday night.

Turns out I have a wanted item. I drive a ’97 Toyota 4-Runner and the Cat converter is full of precious metals. I looked up info on a 4-runner blog and learned that some cities get rashes of these thefts and it only takes about 30 seconds to cut it off. Which is what they did to my car. Cut it all clean off.

I live in the Admiral District on Walnut. [map] The car was parked in the street. Other folks may want to know so they can try preventive measures. I’m just sick about it.

And from Lori:

Monday early a.m. (between 3:30 and 5) and early evening two incidents of a person with a flashlight outside houses in the 50th and Alaska [map] neighborhood. Possible mailbox thefts. Police have been notified.

16 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Catalytic-converter theft; mailbox casing"

  • supernova72 January 8, 2014 (7:48 pm)

    Sorry for hear about your exhaust/cat back loss. I’ve heard the same from a Nissan Xterra owner (parks under WS Bridge to catch bus in a.m.).

    I guess an SUV is easier to get under and a sawzzal will do it quick. Bummer big time. Again, sorry to hear.

  • 4Runner Fan January 8, 2014 (8:01 pm)

    Thanks for the heads-up Patrice, and sorry for this aggravation. I also drive a 4Runner but so far have been spared (off street parking helps). But a buddy who lived east of 35th at the top of the hill (south of Highpoint–not sure the neighborhood name?) had the same thing happen this summer. But they just took the converter, I believe. Never heard a thing until he went out to start his car the next morning and VRROOOOOOM! Sure would like to catch these punks while under the car. They might just stay there.

  • Amy January 8, 2014 (9:13 pm)

    @4Runner Fan: FYI, the neighborhood to which you referred is Sunrise Heights. :-)

  • WestSide45 January 8, 2014 (9:20 pm)

    The Muffler Shop in White Center can, in most cases, build a cage around your exhaust that makes it much more difficult to remove. He (the owner) says Toyota SUV’s are particularly vulnerable to getting the converter sawed off.
    I have no financial interest in The Muffler Shop, I just know he offers this service.

  • Rick January 8, 2014 (9:32 pm)

    Sounds like Sunrise Heights.

  • Patrice January 8, 2014 (9:44 pm)

    Thanks for the kind wishes folks. WestSide45 thanks for the tip – too late for my old girl but I’ve been reading on 4Runner blogs that this is an excellent preventive measure. If I had it to do over again I’d opt for a little extra deterrent. And I’ve also read that Toyota trucks are also at risk, particularly older models have more valuable metals in them. Good luck out there.

  • themightrabbit January 8, 2014 (10:01 pm)

    this kind of theft has been going on for many many years including west seattle. the cage suggestion is a good idea. my wife’s Mercedes catalytic converter is going out right now so I wish they’d have taken hers instead if it’s any consolation. Darned thing is so hard to access. But those Toyota small truck are a gold mine. sorry and hope it’s not a repeat incident for you.

  • Eric January 9, 2014 (4:51 am)

    Obviously these thieves have to sell their stolen goods somewhere. I think the “businesses” that are buying them have a pretty good idea that the merchandise is stolen. It’s too bad there’s no real investigation into this. I wonder what the procedure is for selling metals. Do you have to provide a photo I.D.? Does the business document in detail what they are purchasing?

    There is always a beat up old pick up truck parked outside Safeway on Roxbury offering to buy metal with a phone number spray painted on the side. It may be legit, but it looks suspect to me.

  • Dave January 9, 2014 (7:43 am)

    Sorry to jump in on your blog, but just wanted to make you aware that a company I work with, FuelDefend USA, is launching a catalytic converter alarm system in the next two months. fueldefendusa.com – be on the lookout. I won’t post any more unless you approve. Not trying to be a solicitor . . . oh, and Go Seahawks! Golden Tate grew up in my TN neighborhood . . .

  • toyota fan January 9, 2014 (7:47 am)

    sorry about your cat. it happened to me a few years ago too!
    i installed a ‘cat clamp’ so hopefully it wouldn’t happen again. so far so good. the basic one is $150, and the super duty one is $350.

  • NW January 9, 2014 (8:09 am)

    Per Eric’s question scarp a yards that purchase metal do now keep record by law of who is selling them the metal. West Seattle recycling , they are down along West Marginal in riverside, not west seattle and also Independent Metals in south park both scrap yards close by. Imagine you folks have quite an interest in a street clean group of us on bicycles patrolling. Anyone interested?

  • Todd January 9, 2014 (9:06 am)

    Yes, we get a rash of these every few months. The Toyotas are easy targets because of easy access and ground clearance – nothing more than a battery powered sawzall is needed.
    As far as selling, any legitimate recycler is supposed to follow some federal rules – documenting the catalytic converter has a removal date (needs to be kept for a few weeks before selling) and has a certification tag.
    Here is a photo we took of a customer’s vehicle with the aftermarket “cage”…

  • amalia January 9, 2014 (9:17 am)

    Seriously, where does a criminal sell a catalytic converter?? Shady guy walks up to a shop and sells it out of his trunk? Someone is perpetuating this type of crime.
    That really sucks. Those things are expensive.

  • Ray January 9, 2014 (12:26 pm)

    Mine was stolen a couple months ago (4-runner). Since then I cross my fingers everytime I start my car…

  • Mike January 9, 2014 (10:26 pm)

    Just to clarify, the most common catalytic converter thefts are on the 80’s-early 90s era Toyota 4×4 pickup and 4Runner’s. Reason is the extra ground clearance and very accessible catalytic converter. A thief can cut and run in less than 1 minute. Later model years are not as easy to cut off.
    The only way to stop this theft is to crack down on the metal recyclers that accept these items, knowing they’ve likely been stolen. There needs to be laws implemented like that in Grant County. Recyclers are required to keep a list of each person coming in with metal drop off for cash. If anyone on the list is a known thief and the recycler knowingly accepts metal from that person, the recycler is fined. After a specified number of incidents accepting metals from thief’s, the recyclers are then shut down.


  • Travelngirl January 11, 2014 (12:51 pm)

    Well our neighborhood proved to be a goldmine for these folks. My 89 Toyota 4×4 was hit this morning, along with the 4 runner across the street and the p/up around same yr as mine were all hit. South greenlake neighborhood

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