Thieves Targeting Catalyic Converters

Wednesday, April 4th 2007, 10:39 am
By: News On 6

The latest rage among thieves is not to take your car stereo or your wheels, but to take your catalytic converter. They cut it right off the bottom of your vehicle and News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports it's happening more and more in Tulsa and surrounding towns.

When Billy Jobe started his van the other day, it was so loud, he thought he'd dropped a muffler, but that wasn't it at all.

"I stopped it, went underneath, looked and realized a section was missing," said Jobe.

He was shocked when police told him they weren't shocked at all that someone had stolen his catalytic converter. They're seeing it all the time. Thieves cut them off with a cordless saw in a matter of seconds and sell them to scrap yards. The converters contain amounts of platinum, pladium and rhodium, and the prices for these precious metals are on the rise.

"I knew about air conditioners, copper, things like that that people steal, but to go and hit a catalytic converter and take your exhaust system," said Jobe.

Converters are required on cars to help cut down on emissions. Thieves can get anywhere from $5 to $130 from them, but for victims to buy a new one and fix the damage, it can cost them from $300 to $1000. Police say all these thefts are for one reason.

"I've never met anyone who does this to put food on the table,” said Tulsa Police Department Detective J.J. Gray. “It's always about drugs. They spend their life figuring out ways to break the law."

Most of these thefts are happening in parking lots where someone leaves their car overnight or parked all day. You can't really protect your catalytic converter and your car alarm doesn't go off when it's being stolen.

"Park in well lit, well populated parking lots," said Gray.

Also, park in a garage rather than leaving your car in the driveway or on the street, if you can.