Tulsa police are investigating a rash of stolen catalytic converters being stolen from underneath cars in broad daylight.
The thefts have taken place near 17th and Boulder, Hillcrest Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital, a restaurant at 61st and Mingo and another at the 66th and South Memorial Walmart.
The thieves want the parts for the platinum and rhodium they contain, police said.
"It's hard to catch people who steal catalytic converters because it's a crime they can easily commit in five minutes,” TPD Detective Matt Arnold said.
He said the culprits crawl under a car and use a hacksaw or saw to pull it out and take it with them. Most witnesses even may assume they're working on their own car, Arnold said.
In a surveillance video, it shows someone getting out of a gold Chevrolet Cavalier and sliding underneath a car. Police said he's stealing a catalytic converter.
"They're selling them for metal, for scrap,” Arnold said. “The reality is they're only getting $50-$100 and it could cost $1,500-$2,000 to replace the catalytic converter and fix the car properly.
Security officers at Saint Francis chased people who stole a converter in the hospital parking lot.
The people crashed their car, then got away.
Police went to talk to the owner of the car, Trista Gould.
They say rather than talk, she jumped out a second-story window and broke her leg.
After her hospital stay, she disappeared.
Records show she has warrants for larceny and fraud.
Police realize this type of theft isn't the crime of the century, but it matters to the victims.
"It may not be important to someone who just hears about it, but if that's your car, and you gotta spend a thousand to $1,500 to replace a catalytic converter, that's probably money you don't have lying around," Arnold said.
Most victims don't realize it's happened until they start their car and hear the loud noise it's making.
One victim was leaving for a trip, so he was out the expense of fixing it, plus had to pay for a rental car.
Police ask everyone to pay attention.
If you see someone under a car in a parking lot, don't assume it's legitimate. Call police and let them sort it out. At very least, get a good description and even a tag number in case police need it later.