Look out for catalytic converter theft

Published: May. 19, 2021 at 6:26 PM MDT|Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:27 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - There’s been an increase in a certain kind of theft around Rapid City, according to Amanda Swanson, an Investigator with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve seen a large increase in catalytic converter thefts here in Pennington County and along with Rapid City,” says Swanson. “I will say there’s been a bigger spike in the last 6 months.”

That spike is upwards to 75-percent reported catalytic converters stolen. The part reduces the toxic emissions from vehicles, but these thieves aren’t concerned with the environment. Their concern lies with the valuable metals they’re made of.

Automotive Technicians like Thomas Jerzak know catalytic converters can be sold for a pretty penny. Plus, they’re not very difficult to access from beneath a car.

“Underneath the car, we’ve got the drive shaft and the exhaust running through here, and then up here [pointing beneath the care to a large object] is where we have your catalytic converter at,” says Jerzak.

Are they easy to steal?

“Oh yeah,” says Jerzak, “they just crawl up in there and cut them right off.”

Does it take long?

“No, they’re pretty efficient,” Jerzak said.

“It’s an easy hundred dollars to 1,500 hundred dollars in their pockets,” says Swanson, “and it only takes 2 minutes.”

Authorities say to keep your vehicle in a well lit area and under camera surveillance. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, use it.

“There’s other things out there, as far as I would etch or put a marking into your catalytic converters, because there’s no serial numbers to kind of pinpoint that to your vehicle,” says Swanson.

If your car is louder than normal when it starts, that can be a sign that it’s missing its converter. Also, authorities say that criminals have left behind their blades used to cut the part out. Hang onto those and turn them into the police.

“Catalytic Converter thefts are happening during the day, during the night, specifically in the remote areas,” says Swanson.

Keep an eye out.

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