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Steal a catalytic converter, make 45 bucks

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Thefts of catalytic converters, according to one cop in El Segundo, have reached "epidemic" levels, the LA Times reports. Helpfully, the paper also includes instructions on how to go about stealing your own:

Some thieves use saws, but the preferred weapon in Southern California is a ratchet with a 14-millimeter socket. The thief crawls under the car and unfastens the bolts holding the converter, a process that accomplished crooks can complete in 90 seconds.

Catalytic converters contain a small amount of platinum, and go for $40-50 bucks as scrap. (Although in Ohio, they're getting $100 a pop).

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If you're thinking of starting 2008 as a catalytic converter bandit, note that SUVs -- which are easier to scoot under -- make the best targets. If you're thinking that a high-volume parking area such as the Lakewood commuter lot might be a good place to start, you're not alone.

The employee lot at Mattel was hit, too, but those guys got busted. So watch out for surveillance cameras.