BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The theft of catalytic converters is an issue that has skyrocketed in Kern County. The Kern County District Attorney's office in partnership with the Three-way Chevrolet and Bakersfield College Automotive Program held an event to mark catalytic converters to prevent and deters theft. Mechanics spray painted and etched the vehicles VIN number on the side of the converter with the goal of making them harder to steal.
“It’s going to be a lot harder to sell that catalytic converter to a recycler because they’re going to know its stolen," Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.
Now, this method doesn't better secure the part, but the bright color makes it stand out. District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer says it can protect you if your cars catalytic converter is stolen.
“It also enables law enforcement to be able to identify the catalytic converter with the particular victim," Zimmer said.
There's more than one way to protect your car and one Bakersfield man created it himself. Jamey Campise is the inventor of Katkeeper, a catalytic converter shield.
“I make them out of 12 gauge steel. They’re bent and formed and then I attach them to existing bolts on the vehicle so that it’s not compromising the integrity of the car there is no warranty issues," Campise said.
Campise says his shield encases the entire system and is much cheaper to install than to replace a converter.
“The most expensive shield for me is $800, and it goes down to $550 for the smaller vehicles," Campise said.
Andrew Haney with Bakersfield College says depending on the make and model of your car, it can have between one to four catalytic converters which can get pricey if stolen.
“In this case this Cadillac Escalade has three catalytic converters. You have two in the front and one here in the back for the emissions system. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive system if its stolen. In this case here, if we were to replace these you’re probably looking anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 to $3,000 depending on the year, make, and model of the vehicle to replace them," Haney said.
Zimmers says in July and August of 2021, there were 1,374 reported catalytic converter thefts in Bakersfield and 388 reported in Kern County and that number has risen even higher to more than 3,000 this year in Bakersfield. Zimmer says the most victimized car models are SUVs and trucks like Toyota Tacoma's and Toyota Prius.