COMMUNITY ALERT: Catalytic Converter Thefts

On November 7th the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has released a Community Alert regarding “a recent rash of thefts of vehicle’s catalytic converters, particularly in residential areas.”

If you have any information which may lead to those perpetrating these thefts, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 360-786- 5500 or Crime Stoppers 493-2222.

The entire contents of the notice reads:

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has seen a recent rash of thefts of vehicle’s catalytic converters, particularly in residential areas. Due to the fact that these converters are found in exterior locations and that valuable precious metals including platinum, palladium, and rhodium are used in their construction, converters are a target for thieves. With scrap metal being a common avenue for the criminal element to make money, each of these converters are valuable commodities. The problem is especially common among late-model Toyota trucks and SUVs, due to their high ground clearance and easily-removed bolt-on catalytic converters. Welded-in converters are also at risk of theft from SUVs and trucks, as they can be easily removed with a battery powered reciprocating saw. The saw removal of the converter can often inadvertently damage the car’s wiring or fuel line resulting in dangerous consequences.

Thieves can get $40 to $100 for a converter from an unscrupulous scrap metal dealer. Toyota 4Runners are particular targets — not only do their catalytic converters contain plenty of platinum, their high ground clearance makes them particularly easy targets. A thief with a socket wrench can remove a 4Runner’s converter in minutes.

Since thieves crawl under the vehicle to remove the converter, it is easy to hide while the crime is taking place. Most victims report that they didn’t hear anything during the night – leading us to believe that speed wrenches or normal hand tools are used around residences. Each unit weighs less than 8 pounds, and is easily lifted and moved.

The nature of this crime makes repeat occurrences attractive, since the converter needs to be replaced for the vehicle to be operated. The only real way to protect against the crime is to make sure that the vehicle is stored inside.

Since many of us don’t have the option of storing our vehicles inside, it is important to remember that lighting is a thief’s enemy. Make sure that you have adequate outdoor lighting illuminating your driveway or vehicle storage area. Report any suspicious activity by calling 911 immediately. Know who your neighbors are and consider forming a Neighborhood Watch program.

For information on forming a Neighborhood Watch, contact the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Division at (360) 786-5855.

Contact info: If you have any information, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 360-786- 5500 or Crime Stoppers 493-2222.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Releases Video of Gravelly Beach Break-In

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has released more information which neighbors may be able to use to help nab the perpetrators of one or more of what’s developing to be a string of daytime burglaries in the area of Gravelly Beach Loop.

As was written previously here, a home was broken in to, on January 22, in the 4800 block of Gravelly Beach Loop. The incident occurred between 11:00 AM and 4:55 PM.

Since January 22nd, two more break-ins have occurred, in the same area. The Sheriff’s Office has now released new information which may help us to capture those responsible.

From the Sheriff’s Office release:

Sheriff seeks identity of teenage burglars

Three residential burglaries have occurred in the last 2 weeks in the Gravelly Beach Rd. N.W. off Steamboat Island Rd. N.W. area. They occurred on 1/22/08, 2/5/08, and 2/6/08. The suspects appear to be operating during the daytime hours. They have taken over $25,000 worth of guns, jewelry, electronic items, and a 1992 Toyota Camry, taupe in color, WA. License 467 RLS. In one burglary, on Wednesday 02/06/08, the suspects were seen by a surveillance camera and captured on video. The Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in identifying these suspects before they can commit any more crimes.

We believe that there are probably at least two suspects. Both appear to be white males in their late teens to early twenties. The video shows that they are driving a van that is probably blue or gray in color. In the video the suspects changed hats several times which gives the appearance of several suspects.

A video is available here.

Here are some stills from the video. Do you recognize any of these people?

If you have any information which might advance this investigation, please contact Chief Criminal Deputy Jim Chamberlain, 360-786-5659 or Detective Lt. Chris Mealy, 360-786-5508.

UPDATED: The Olympian is reporting that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Mitchell E. Coxwell, 23, living on Steamboat Island Road. According to the news article, “Detectives think he is driving a stolen blue Volkswagen Passat with Washington license plate 642RMC.”

Thurston County Sheriff Needs Your Help to Solve Jan 22 Burglary on Gravelly Beach Loop

On January 22, 2008 Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a residential burglary complaint at the 4800 block of Gravelly Beach Loop. The victim discovered that the rear glass door had been broken and this is believed to be where entry was gained. The incident occurred between 11:00 AM and 4:55 PM.

Neighbors observed a black mid 1990’s Ford Ranger with silver colored tool box leaving the area at a high rate of speed around 3:45 PM.

If you have any information that could help solve this crime please contact the Thurston County Sheriffs Office.

Contact Info: Any information should be called in to the Sheriff’s Office at 360-786-5500 or Crime Stoppers 493-2222.

Tips and Hints:

  • Report all suspicious persons/vehicles.
  • Make sure all doors and windows secured.
  • Leave blinds open.
  • If you have an alarm system, make sure that it is activated and operational.
  • Have an inventory of all valuables, record serial/model numbers

Most residential burglaries occur in late morning to early afternoon hours, while we are at work.

UPDATE: The Sheriff’s Office now has video and more details, following two more daytime burglaries in the same area. Click here to read the update.

Thieves Break In to Steamboat Island Espresso – Information Sought

The Olympian is reporting that thieves broke into the Steamboat Coffee Shop this last Wednesday night. They broke a window and, after all that damage, came away with $5 in change.

This is a local business, run by our neighbors. If you know anything about this break-in, please contact the Thurston County Crime Stoppers at 360-493-2222.

And, if you’re in the mood for a beverage, please stop by Steamboat Island Coffee Shop. They do a fine job and we’ve every reason to want to see this local business thrive.

Here’s how the incident was reported in The Olympian:

Thieves broke a $75 window to gain access to an espresso stand on Steamboat Island Road near Sexton Drive N.W. Wednesday [June 27] morning and made off with about $5 in change from the stand’s money box, Lt. Chris Mealy of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said today.

The burglary took place sometime between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Wednesday at Steamboat Espresso located at 3403 Steamboat Island Road N.W.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Thurston County Crime Stoppers at 360-493-2222.