Catalytic converter thefts on the rise in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — Catalytic converter and car thefts are on the rise, matching state trends, according to police statistics.

Fairfield Police Lt. Edward Weihe said the town has had approximately 55 catalytic converter thefts so far this year, citing detective bureau stats, with 15 of those occurring at the Fairfield Metro Station parking lot.

“The current trend does seem to be higher volume at the metro station, however they have occurred at many parking lots that have a high concentration of parked vehicles,” Weihe said.

Weihe said nationwide catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise due to the increase in value of the precious metals in catalytic converters, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. Information on such thefts is tracked by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“Fairfield has had a drastic increase in these thefts over the past year,” he said.

According to police reports, 12 catalytic converters have been stolen in the past two weeks in Fairfield — five of which were taken from vehicles parked in the Fairfield Metro parking lot.

To prevent a catalytic converter from getting stolen, Weihe said the NICB recommends a number of measures.

Those recommendations include installing an anti-catalytic converter theft device, which are made by a variety of manufacturers and provide a level of security. It also said owners of fleet vehicles should aim to park them in an enclosed and secured area that is well lit, locked, and alarmed.

“Park personal vehicles in a garage,” the NICB said. “If not possible and vehicles must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice, making them leave the area and your vehicle untouched.”

Meanwhile, Weihe said car thefts are also on the rise in Fairfield, noting 84 vehicles were stolen between Jan. 1 and Oct. 27 of this year compared to 54 vehicles being reported stolen in the same time frame in both 2019 and 2018.

Recently, some police departments in Fairfield County joined together to create a car theft task force, as law enforcement the issue.

He said the car thefts typically occur in Fairfield’s residential neighborhoods during the overnight hours and are mainly contributed to key fobs left in the vehicles. He said residents have the ability to deter this type of property crime.

“We continue to urge our residents to secure their vehicles when not in use by closing the windows and locking the doors,” he said. “We also urge them to remove their keys, key fobs, and any valuable items from the vehicle when not in use. This will make the vehicle a hard target and an unattractive target.”

joshua.labella@hearstmediact.com