Thieves targeting catalytic converters in West Seattle

SEATTLE -- Some drivers are dealing with an expensive headache because thieves are targeting catalytic converters again. The problem was huge a few years ago – and now mechanics are hoping this isn’t the beginning of the next wave of thefts.

ccPatrice Stankavich of West Seattle found out the hard way just how expensive her catalytic converter is when she discovered hers was stolen Tuesday morning.

What’s worse, she’s not alone. Stankavich says her neighbor just a few blocks away was targeted, too.

“The phone call we got just a couple of days ago, just the part was $2,400,” said Robert Sturzione at Alki Automotive.

Sturizone worries they’re about to get hit with a rush of new customers who have big expensive problems.

“Our clients are upset,” said Sturizone. “They feel violated, their cars are torn apart. And the thieves, most of the time, are only getting about 30 bucks.”

Catalytic converters contain traces of precious metals and thieves are looking to cash in on an easy grab. Scrapping catalytic converters is illegal but Sturzione says crooks find recyclers willing to play ball.

“What these thieves are doing is they’re climbing under cars with easy access,” said Sturizone. “They won’t climb under and something like an Audi; they’ll climb under something like a four-wheel-drive truck.”

Some mechanics are installing the locking devices to try to prevent the thefts but Sturzione says nothing can stop a thief who's determined to make a quick buck.

Some locking devices start at about $100, but if you can’t shell out that kind of cash, and you’re lucky enough to have off-street parking, make sure you leave your car in a well-lighted area.