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Gas And Catalytic Converter Thefts On The Rise In Sonora.

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Sonora, CA – There is an uptick in both gas and catalytic converter thefts in Sonora, with police pointing to inflation as potentially fueling the increase.

“The common thing that is occurring right now is people are crawling underneath vehicles and actually puncturing holes in the gas tanks and siphoning gas through the gas tanks and actually causing damage to the vehicles on top of the loss of fuel,” relayed SPD spokesperson Thomas Brickley.

A similar case happened just last week in Tuolumne County, where sheriff’s deputies caught a man reeking of gas and attempting to steal gas from a school bus at the Chinese Camp Campus, as detailed here. However, sheriff’s officials say this was an isolated case and they have not seen a hike in gas or converter thefts in the unincorporated parts of the county.

In the city of Sonora, it is much more common, noted Brickley, who reported, “Over the course of the last year, we’ve taken approximately 20 cases where someone has come and drilled a hole in the gas tank and siphoned out the fuel in the tank.”

The following tips are offered by the SPD to protect against gas theft:

  • Try to park in well-lit areas or near security cameras.
  • Park vehicle in a garage.
  • Do not leave your vehicle in public parking lots overnight.

Those tips will also protect against the rising catalytic converter thefts in the city, but it is a trend where the thieves seem to be more emboldened. They have occurred in residential neighborhoods as well as in shopping centers during busy hours of business. Brickley gave this recent example that took place in the Sonora Plaza on Mono Way, “We are actively investigating a case where a vehicle’s catalytic converter was stolen from the vehicle in broad daylight. The thief pulled up in the middle of the day and cut the catalytic converter and drove away.”

One additional way to stop these thefts is by tagging the catalytic converter itself, according to Brickley, who explained, “You can go down to a mechanic and ask them to put some kind of engraving. Also, some shops will paint the catalytic converters. That way, if it gets brought into a recycling place, they can tell that it has been stolen, and hopefully, they will not accept it and deter these people from committing the crime.”

Those stealing gas can be charged with a felony if the damage done to the vehicle exceeds $400 and if the catalytic converter is worth more than $950.