The Portland Police department recommends that you become very aware of your surroundings when you park your car in the city after seeing a number of thefts or attempted thefts of catalytic converters from parked vehicles.

If you're like me who knows absolutely nothing about how a car works under the hood except for the windshield wiper fluid, you may be wondering just what a catalytic converter is, what it does and why they are being stolen. Luckily, I Googled it for you.

What is a catalytic converter?

Catalytic converters became a thing in the mid to late 70s as a way to reduce pollution caused by vehicle exhaust after the Environmental Protection Agency realized that something has to be done about the smog over cities like Los Angeles and created more restrictions on car emissions.

How does a catalytic converter work?

Its job is to turn the hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides that are bad for the environment into carbon dioxide and water vapor. Ever seen water dripping from your tailpipe when it's idling? That's the catalytic converter doing its job.

Why are people stealing catalytic converters?

Simple really. They're expensive. If your catalytic converter needs to be replaced, it could run you upwards of $2000 for a new one. With those prices, there's a used market for them, and thieves are trying to cash in by stealing them right out from under your car.

The Portland Police Department posted on Facebook Tuesday that over the past two months there have been 12 reported thefts or attempted thefts of catalytic converters. What's the best way to try to prevent yours from being stolen? They say park in well-lit areas and areas that you know may have security cameras and don't park in one spot unattended for several days.

If you have any information about catalytic converters stolen in Portland that could help the Portland Police, call them at 207-874-8575.

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