Four identifiably marked San Francisco Police Department vehicles had their catalytic converters surgically removed by thieves last month.
“On September 12, 2022, at approximately 1 p.m., a San Francisco Police Officer discovered a marked police truck parked in the area of 16th Street and De Haro Street had its catalytic converter stolen,” confirmed the SFPD media relations department. “The officer inspected other police vehicles and discovered that another marked police truck and two marked police vans also had their catalytic converters stolen.”
The theft occurred just outside the Special Operations Bureau building at 17th and De Haro, which houses the SWAT Team and Bomb Squad, and is surrounded by police vehicles. Along De Haro and at a Carolina Street parking lot entrance nearby signs note “police vehicles only.”
“The people engaging in this activity really don’t think much of the police if they think they can steal catalytic converters from the best of us,” said an SFPD officer.
Filching catalytic converters has become a cottage industry for thieves and recyclers who purchase the exhaust control devices to extract the rare metals contained within them. Aging Toyota Priuses are particularly popular targets.
Catalytic converter crime has become a kind of meme reflecting San Francisco’s inability to control its streets. Earlier this year a pair of Richmond District roommates watched a man sawing a catalytic converter off a car and called 911. The police declined to detain the suspect, handed him his tools, and directed him to the nearest bus stop.
Police sources didn’t seem optimistic that those who made off with the marked vehicles’ converters will be apprehended.