The Yakima County Sheriff's Office is warning vehicle owners about catalytic converter thieves in the area. The problem is that most people don't know what a converter does or what it looks like. But thieves know and replacing a converter can cost upwards of $3,000. A converter is a cleaner in essence. It cleans harmful things coming from your exhaust and cleans them up so the exhaust is less of a problem to the environment. But it's not what they do it's what is inside the converters that thieves want. They contain what's called platinum group metal. The thieves steal them and take them to recyclers and get about $100. But victims are the those who pay because it can cost thousands to replace the converters. Authorities around the state and in Yakima say it's a regional problem. Thefts have been reported in many cities on the west side of the state and in the Spokane area.
Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies say the thieves are now in the Yakima Valley looking for victims. So how do you know you've been ripped off?
They say one way to tell if you've been a victim of a thief, your car may make a loud noise when starting.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies say park your car an area with lots of lights or in your garage. Make sure your car alarm will alert you when people are under your vehicle using a saw to cut off the converter. Deputies also say if you see someone around or under a vehicle call police.

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