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Q: I think stealing of catalytic converters must be getting worse when it makes the front page of the New York Times.

Bill Abbott, Saratoga

A: Yes, indeed. The New York Times ran a story last week about soaring prices for precious metals, like palladium, which now cost more than gold and are enticing thieves to continue to steal catalytic converters.

The first example in the New York Times article was Michael Kevane of San Jose, whose 2005 Prius converter was ripped off. The New York Times wrote: “Stricter car emission rules around the world … have sent demand for the precious metals in catalytic converters surging.”

The price of palladium was about $500 an ounce five years ago and rose to a record $2,875 an ounce in 2020. It is now between $2,000 and $2,500 an ounce, according to the Times.

The Times wrote: “Rhodium prices have skyrocketed more than 3,000 percent, rising from about $640 an ounce five years ago to a record $21,900 an ounce this year, roughly 12 times the price of gold.”

I’ve reported on this surge for nearly a decade, and now cities nationwide are feeling the pain. Older hybrids, such as the Prius, are targeted because their catalytic converters are used less frequently and easy to yank out.

It can take thieves less than three minutes to rip off a converter. Then it can take weeks to get a new one, which can cost around $3,000. Hybrids manufactured before 2011 are common targets because their converters are situated under the cars in a way that makes them easier to remove. Thieves who go after newer-model hybrids risk burning themselves with liquid from coolant tubes that obscure access, but the higher prices are tempting to more thieves.

There are special straps, plates, shields and clamps you can install to reduce the chance of theft.

Q: On Foothill Expressway in Los Altos between San Antonio and El Monte, it’s really difficult to figure out which white lines to follow. There’s been a huge project going on there for months, which included lane shifts and repaving. Are there plans to correct this once the paving is complete?

Lisa Twardowski, Sunnyvale

A: The expressway will be re-striped shortly after microsurfacing is completed in April or May, once the temperature rises sufficiently for placement.

Q: Mr. Resourceful, is Highway 1 is south of Big Sur open for bikes? It should be lovely if it’s allowed.

Julie Groves, Los Gatos

A: Bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians can only travel south on Highway 1 to Lime Creek, near the Esalen Institute. Two miles farther south, at Rat Creek, a 150-foot section of the roadway completely washed out last month, closing the highway to all traffic until further notice.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@bayareanewsgroup.com or 408-920-5335.