Man caught stealing catalytic converter from Hillsborough church van, Orange County deputies say

Orange County News

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Orange County deputies are looking for a man they say cut three catalytic converters from two vans at a Hillsborough church.

Deputies say the vans belong to Wayside Baptist Church. Video shows a man cutting the converters with a reciprocating saw.

People connected with the church interrupted the man as he was removing a converter from the second van. He then got in a vehicle and drove away, taking one converter with him and leaving two behind, deputies say.

The man is described as having short hair and is believed to be between 50 and 60 years old. He is approximately 6-foot-2 with a thin build. Deputies say he left the church driving an older model, dark blue, four-door Honda Accord. The car had temporary tags on it and the driver’s side mirror appeared to be held on with duct tape.

“This type of theft is hard to stop because it can happen so quickly,” said Sheriff Charles Blackwood. “In this case, witnesses provided a description of the suspect and the vehicle he drove, and these descriptions matched available video footage. We hope the public can help us identify the suspect.”

According to the sheriff’s office, a catalytic converter reduces harmful emissions from automobile exhaust, using metals such as palladium, rhodium, gold, or platinum as the catalyst. 

Recyclers are interested in purchasing used catalytic converters, extracting these expensive metals, and selling them for a profit.

Generally, a catalytic converter does not have a Vehicle Identification Number stamped on it, making it difficult to trace a stolen converter back to a specific victim’s vehicle. Additionally, thieves can remove a catalytic converter quickly, especially from vehicles that sit high off the ground such as trucks and SUVs.

Anyone with any information is asked to call (919) 245-2907.

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