CHICO — Members of the disc golf community in Chico have recently seen a spike in car break-ins, specifically catalytic converter theft, at the Peregrine Point Disc Golf Course in upper Bidwell Park located off of Deer Creek Highway in Chico.
The first report came Saturday, March 13, when a member of the Peregrine Point Disc Golf Course Facebook page said that he was playing at the course between 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and returned to his car to see his catalytic converter had been cut off.
A day later Dave Piper, who said he was on the course from 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m., said that his catalytic converter was stolen as well. Piper reported it to the Chico Police Department which forwarded him to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office saying the course is in the county’s jurisdiction.
Piper said on Facebook that to get the catalytic converter fixed it costed him $1,000.
Piper said that he has heard of similar issues in the past and that he sees broken glass occasionally in the parking lot, adding that usually people don’t break their own windows so he would assume it is probably from a car break-in.
Chico police officer Peter Durfee said that the Police Department has received zero reports of catalytic converter thefts dating back to August 2020, although he said reports reported online over the weekend may not be through the system quite yet.
Piper said when he attempted to report the theft to Chico police he was forwarded to Butte County Sheriff’s Office. However Chico police confirmed Wednesday that the course is in their jurisdiction.
Durfee did note that on March 17 officers received a report of a passenger side window being broken at the course, as well as a car bumper incident on March 20. Durfee said that a couple of years ago catalytic converter theft was on the rise, however a couple of arrests were made in response and thefts have gone down.
Still, Durfee said that officers can always increase patrol wherever a trend of thefts may be occurring.
The Police Department said that they are aware of the catalytic converter thefts and are encouraging those concerned to engrave their vehicles vehicle identification number onto their catalytic converter to help identify those stolen and found.
“If we see a trend, maybe thefts occurring then absolutely we increase patrol in the area, show a little more door (presence) up there and hopefully push the people that are trying to take property from good folks out,” Durfee said.
Piper, who has been disc golfing at Peregrine Point for three years now, said that disc golf is a sport on the rise, as it it is a great way for people to experience the outdoor environment and become even more sensitive to the value of park lands.
Piper said frequenters of the course often volunteer time to upkeep the course, although he admitted parking is a concern and sometimes a risk factor. After replacing his catalytic converter once, he has begun to think of possible ideas which may help solve the parking lot security issue.
With the parking lot being near Highway 32 it is an easy target where the thefts can be done quickly. A camera, Piper feels, would scare people away from the area and the course wouldn’t be identified as an easy target.
“There’s some telephone poles all around and you could mount a camera that’s tall enough so that somebody won’t have access to it. At least moderate it,” Piper said. “Maybe Caltrans. They have cameras all over the state monitering the highway. They could monitor the highway and the parking lot. That would be great.”
Phil Brock, a member of the Peregrine Point Disc Golf Facebook page, said in a Facebook message that two game cameras were placed covering the easement at the Peregrine Point Trailhead in 2020, however they were stolen within a week.
“This recent rash of catalytic thefts is very concerning,” Brock said. “The cost to replace one is a very large deterrent for people who would like to use the area.”
To report a non-emergency crime to the Chico Police Department visit https://chico.ca.us/report.