Any suggestions on what to do to prevent this?
About 6 months ago, mom noticed our mailbox was bent looking one day. Someone had apparently hit in and knocked it sideways on purpose, making a chunk of wood (from the base of it) fly off into our front yard about 10 feet away. We've heard stories of people hitting mailboxes with bats from cars, in the past. Someone also took a can of spray paint and basically made a single-line cross-out over our numbers on our mailbox. This was like half of a year ago...both of them.
About 3 weeks ago, someone stole our bbq grill (wasn't that great of one) from literally under our dining room window. It has been there for at least probably 1.5 to 2 years and nobody ever touched it. It was very used, had crud and food stuck all inside of it, charcoal soot and such on it. They stole it anyway. It was missing after a very rainy night of storms and our power was out for about 5 hours throughout the entire neighborhood and local area.
Yesterday morning, when mom went to crank her car, it was extremely loud running as if it didn't have a muffler on it. She took it to a garage and they said that someone tried to cut the catalytic converter off (because they can sell it and get about $100 for the platinum inside of it). However, the garage said they cut it in the wrong spot and abandoned the cut about halfway through, apparently having been startled by something/someone. We weren't up. I didn't hear anything, but the dog in the other room growled once during the night, according to another family member. It cost us $230 to get the piece of pipe replaced that they cut into. Her car sits about half of a foot off from the ground. I'm a skinny grown guy and I can barely get under there, and it's uncomfortable for me. Her car was parked literally about 6-8 feet from the corner of our house in the driveway. Hedges are on one side (they have been there since we lived here). Many, many months ago, I installed a brighter back porch light that shines on both her car and also into our back yard the other way. So it wasn't that 'dark' where the car was. We also have a bright security light on the light pole in the opposite corner of our front yard where the car is. That lights up multiple yards.
What else could I do to help prevent them from trying to take this catalytic converter again? The freaking alarm won't sound unless they try to break into the car itself. It's a 2001 Ford Escort ZX2 - it's not some prized car. We have no idea who could have done it. We have multiple questionable people on the street, as well as some new people up on the corner of our street who always seem to be at home and apparently may not work at all. Yet they have nice cars and such. According to their tags, they lived in another county before moving here several weeks ago.
Note also that the garage said that several other people had similar issues with the catalytic converter being stolen. The funny thing is, we're in the middle of our street...like the 12th house down. I don't see how we were "an easy target" with so many lights everywhere, a dog that barks at sounds and such low ground clearance. The dog probably heard the saw-zall.