Multiple police sources told Mission Local that four identifiably marked SFPD vehicles were hit by a thief, or thieves, who cut out their catalytic converters. The incident may have taken place in the wee hours on Monday, and was discovered by police personnel on Monday afternoon.
Filching catalytic converters has become a cottage industry for thieves and recyclers who purchase the exhaust control devices for the rare metals contained within them. Especially for owners of aging Toyota Priuses, dealing with converter theft has become endemic.
“On September 12, 2022, at approximately 1 p.m., a San Francisco Police Officer discovered a marked police truck parked in the area of 16th Street and De Haro Street had its catalytic converter stolen,” the SFPD media relations department confirmed. “The officer inspected other police vehicles, and discovered that another marked police truck and two marked police vans also had their catalytic converters stolen.”
The theft was especially brazen because it took place just outside the Special Operations Bureau building at 17th and DeHaro, which houses the SWAT Team and Bomb Squad. And, while there is no sign proclaiming this a police structure, it is, unsubtly, surrounded by many police vehicles. Along DeHaro and at a parking lot entrance on nearby Carolina Street, signs note, “police vehicles only.”
“The people engaging in this activity really don’t think much of the police if they think they can steal catalytic converters from the best of us,” said an SFPD higher-up.
Catalytic converters loomed large in a recent unflattering article about the department. A pair of Richmond District roommates watched a man sawing a catalytic converter off a car early one morning, and called 911. They complained to the Chronicle, however, that police declined to detain the suspect, handed him his tools and directed him to the nearest bus stop.
Chief Bill Scott defended his officers’ handling of the matter.
Police sources did not seem entirely optimistic the culprit or culprits who made off with the marked vehicles’ converters would be apprehended.
“They’ll get away with it too,” grumbled a veteran SFPD officer. “And this is not the first incident.”
The officer said that cops’ personal vehicles have been broken into at 17th and DeHaro. Additionally, an unmarked police vehicle has allegedly been stolen from this site “at least once.”
The police note that no arrests have been made and this remains an open investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.