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Tiburon Peninsula hit by ‘cat’ burglars

Tiburon resident Alan Brune prepares to have his Toyota Prius towed from a San Rafael auto facility to a San Francisco Toyota dealership on Feb. 18. Brune brought the car to San Rafael in hopes of replacing the catalytic converter after it was stolen earlier this month, but the auto shop couldn’t procure the part due to a spate of such thefts across Marin. (Elliot Karlan / For The Ark)

Tiburon resident Alan Brune was perplexed when he found bolts sprinkled like breadcrumbs around his Toyota Prius earlier this month. His confusion cleared when he stuck his keys into the ignition to start up the car and the normally near-silent hybrid began to roar. “It sounded like a plane taking off,” Brune said. “I looked underneath and saw the exhaust pipe was lower than usual and figured it was the catalytic converter.” Scores of unsuspecting car owners have fallen victim in a rash of catalytic-converter thefts on the Tiburon Peninsula and across Marin in recent months, mirroring a nationwide surge. The converters, which scrub toxic gases from car exhaust, contain precious metals like palladium and rhodium. Thefts have increased exponentially over the past couple years as the value of those metals has skyrocketed; they’re now worth more per ounce than gold.

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