Local News

Catalytic converters hot property in Raleigh, Fayetteville

Posted January 31, 2018 6:08 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2018 6:38 p.m. EST

— Dozens of catalytic converters have been stolen from vehicles in Raleigh and Fayetteville in recent weeks.

At least 12 such thefts have occurred in Raleigh in January – almost a quarter of the 52 converter thefts reported in all of 2017. Meanwhile, Fayetteville police are investigating 17 converter thefts since last Friday.

Catalytic converters help reduce emissions from vehicles, and they contain small amounts of precious metals, such as platinum and palladium. Authorities said thieves try to sell the devices to salvage yards to get the money from the metals that can be stripped out of them.

"That's what brings these prices from $5 per converter to $150 per converter," said Ronnie Thompson, president of TT&E, a salvage yard in Garner.

State law prohibits a scrap metal yard from buying standalone catalytic converters.

TT&E is part of the Recycling Association of North Carolina, a group of recycling companies working to stop thieves from cashing in.

"Questions are everything," Thompson said. "We always ask [sellers] what shop they're coming from, who they work for. A lot of times, we back it up with a phone call."

Alex Cardinell, owner of Capital City Auto Brokers in Raleigh, said four of his cars were hit between October and December.

"As far as retail value, it was about $7,000," Cardinell said. "Not only does it cost money, but it costs time and also the lost attempt at the sale."

His SUVs have been the main target because it's easier to crawl under them to cut out a converter. So, he's now parking them at the front of the lot to make them more visible to people driving by on Capital Boulevard, and he installed more lighting.

Of the thefts so far this year, Raleigh police said Honda Accords and Ford vans have been targeted. Most of the converters stolen in Fayetteville likewise came off of Hondas, police there said.

The Fayetteville thefts have occurred mainly at apartment complexes, while converters have been stolen outside of apartments, business parking lots and at auto repair shops in Raleigh, police said.

Police issued the following tips to prevent catalytic converter thefts:

  • Store a vehicle in a garage or other secure location if possible.
  • When parking a vehicle overnight, be aware of lighting, the presence of cameras to monitor the area and any way to restrict access to the vehicle, particularly underneath.
  • Anyone up early, such as to walk a dog, should call police if they see or hear anything similar to machine operation or loud noises not typical for that time of day.
  • Commercial locations should also consider cameras, fences and storage building locks when evaluating external security measures.