The North Berkeley BART station. Image: Google Maps
The North Berkeley BART station. Image: Google Maps

In less than 12 hours, a thief or thieves stole four catalytic converters from Hondas parked at the North Berkeley BART station earlier this week, authorities have reported.

All four thefts took place Tuesday between about 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., the BART Police reported. In the past few weeks, Hondas at several East Bay BART stations have been targeted by thieves who have removed the auto part.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said property crime overall was down 10% for the transit agency in 2015 compared to 2014. Larceny was down 11% and auto theft was down 9%.

According to a quick tally of catalytic converter thefts reported in recent months in the BART Police Department’s daily crime log, however, the agency overall saw 15 in December, six in January and 23 so far in February.

Tuesday, catalytic converters — which help control emissions — were stolen from a 2000 Honda Accord and a 2000 Honda Element, both of which were parked in the east lot at the North Berkeley BART station.

Catalytic converters were also taken from a 2016 Honda Accord and a 1999 Honda Accord on Tuesday. The parking areas for those vehicles were not specified.

The BART Police also received two reports Monday about catalytic converters taken from vehicles parked at the El Cerrito del Norte station: a 2000 Honda Odyssey and 1997 Toyota 4Runner. Those thefts took place between about 4:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.

On Saturday, two catalytic converters were taken from the Lafayette station, from a 2001 Honda Accord and a 2003 Acura TL.

Last week, catalytic converters were taken from three vehicles — all Hondas — parked at the El Cerrito Plaza and Hercules BART stations.

The prior week, three vehicles at the Orinda BART station and two at the Hercules station were targeted. All of the vehicles were Honda Accords from either 2000 or 2001. There were additional thefts prior to these, but the pace seems to have picked up of late.

The last time a catalytic converter was taken from a vehicle parked at the North Berkeley BART station was Dec. 9, according to a daily log released by the BART Police.

“Although there have been a few recent incidents at North Berkeley Station, we have not had a significant problem with catalytic converter thefts at the Berkeley stations,” said Lt. Steve Coontz of the BART Police.

He encouraged anyone who sees something suspicious to report it to the BART Police at 510-464-7000, or to use the BART Watch application on a smart phone.

Catalytic converters are a target for thieves because they contain precious metals — including platinum, palladium and rhodium. In addition, their external location makes them relatively easy to steal. In recent years, Berkeley has seen at least two spates of thefts of the car part.

According to a factsheet from the Sacramento Regional Transit District, thieves can get from $50 to $250 per converter, though it can cost a vehicle owner as much as $1,000 to get the part replaced.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the last report the department got about a catalytic converter theft was in December.

Nationwide insurance has published a list of tips about preventing catalytic converter theft.

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • In parking lots, park near a building entrance or an access road where there’s a lot of traffic
  • At businesses or factories, park in a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night
  • Engrave your license plate number on the converter so it is traceable
  • Buy a vehicle security system that is set to trigger with slight motion
  • Have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame at a muffler shop with pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame
  • Check out catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at the local auto parts store or online

See more tips about how to protect against catalytic converter theft.

North Berkeley sees rash of catalytic converter thefts (10.18.13)
Catalytic converter thefts on rise in Berkeley, nationwide (06.20.12)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...