Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Year of the Cat

One Life, Maybe Two

They say a cat has nine lives. But this cat - or more correctly, catalytic converter, has one for sure but maybe two. The catalytic converter is a device under your car. In all likelihood you have never seen it. It makes its best efforts to return the atmosphere back to the days when air was clean and sex was dirty and polluting cars were not a problem. The feds mandate the device to be attached to every car and it has been so attached since for the past thirty-plus years.

Pretty boring so far, huh? In order for your car to purr cleanly the cat is comprised of, among other things, precious metals - as in platinum, palladium, and rhodium which collectively sell for well over $ 8,000 PER OUNCE! And what happens as the value of the dollar drops as it has been doing for months? The value of precious metals skyrockets. And that makes the catalytic converters great for recycling. Are you starting to hear the magic words, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty?"

Where does one take a hot cat for a cool payoff? the same place copper thieves take stolen copper that has been ripped out everything from street lamps to air conditioning units - any recycling center. Word on the street is that each one of the metal felines brings between $ 100 and $ 200. Let's see, it takes any old drugged up hippie 10 minutes or so to remove the device. A practiced thief with a portable battery-powered saw can have one gone in 60 seconds. Thieves can live pretty well working part time.

What of the hapless car owner? Costs up to a couple of grand to get the meow back on your motor. So who wins? Crooks and recyclers. Who loses? Individuals - simply for the deductible if they are insured, but for the whole ball of platinum if they are not, and insurance companies. And who gets to pay the additional cost of insurance because of the rash of thefts of these little kittens? You and me.

Law enforcement folks tell us that SUVs, 4-Runners, and other trucks that sit high are most vulnerable to the converter thefts since they sit high off the ground making it easier for a thief to slip underneath and do the dirty deed. The problem is not unique to Las Vegas. The blog has more than 250 stories of such thefts - and that is only one board! The answer is not in locking or otherwise protecting the device, as that is next to impossible. Even if your car is equipped with an alarm it is unlikely that it would be tripped as the two unkind cuts are made to allow for removal.

The solution is stricter enforcement of the recycle yards. Require a photo and thumbprint for every sale. As for punishment of both the catalytic converter and copper thieves? I haven't decided whether capital punishment is appropriate - but then my cat has not yet been stolen (as far as I know).

A little blogging music Maestro... "Steal My Heart Away," by Van Morrison.

Dr. Forgot

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