Why are thieves stealing so many catalytic converters? Here’s the real answer

National News

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is cracking down on catalytic converter thefts in their community.

With help from the community, deputies said they arrested Dillion Williams, Joseph Hare, Patrick Maybin and Joseph Dunn this week after a string of catalytic converter thefts were reported across the county.

Deputies said the county sees a rash of these thefts occur every couple of years. Maj. Frank Stout said in many instances the converters are stolen and sold by individuals with drug addictions.

Wade Rodgers, owner of Advantage A/C, Muffler and Brakes in Spartanburg recounted a time where he was a victim of converter thieves seven years ago.

“The shop that we owned two miles down the street had 15 converters stolen at one time,” Rodgers said.

In order to replace the stolen part, Rodgers had to spend thousands of dollars to buy new converters for all 15 vehicles.

Catalytic converters are said to be worth more than gold.

They contain valuable precious metals including platinum, palladium and rhodium. Perpetrators melt the converters and sell the final product online or out of state.

According to law enforcement, these criminals usually operate at night and target vehicles that are lifted high up off of the ground. They will then use a tool called a Sawzall to cut off the converter in under 3 minutes.

“A person that hits two or three of those one night could have a pretty significant pay day once they’re sold,” Stout said.

This crime is not unique to only Henderson County, converter thefts are happening statewide in South Carolina. The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office received 194 reports from victims of catalytic converter thefts in 2020.

Deputies at the GCSO have received 83 reports of stolen converters so far this year. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office received 30 reports of missing converters in 2020 with no arrests.

This is an issue plaguing communities all across the state and is costing victims hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to replace the stolen part.

“For one of them to cost $2,000 to replace is not uncommon,” Rodgers said, “There’s precious metals inside of the catalytic converter for creating a chemical reaction.”

According to Wade, Toyota Prius cars are the target of many catalytic converter thieves — leaving victims with a bill of nearly $1,200 for a brand new converter.

Deputies encourage the public to give them a call if they see any suspicious behavior in their neighborhood at night.

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