Local News

Thefts prompt UNC police to patrol parking lots

Posted July 3, 2008 12:32 p.m. EDT

— The University of North Carolina has posted campus police officers in the Chatham County park-and-ride and Friday Center parking lots after a rash of thefts from those locations.

In one week in June, 20 catalytic converters were stolen from cars parked in those lots, police said. They believe the thieves took the converters to sell for scrap. Catalytic converters contain small amounts of precious metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium.

An on-duty campus officer will keep an eye on the parked cars temporarily. The university ultimately plans to have an off-duty officer pick up the parking patrol, so that others are not pulled away from their regular assignments

The university is also considering installing cameras in the lots to link to the existing security-camera system.

The thefts at UNC are the latest in a string of crimes police believe are executed to get money from scrap metal.

Dozens of metal vases disappeared from cemeteries in Wake and Johnston counties. Copper coils were ripped from air conditioning units, and hundreds of feet of copper cable that was stolen in Durham knocked out phone and Internet service to part of the city. Storm sewer grates were plucked from city streets.

Raleigh police said nine converters were stolen from vehicles at an automotive repair shop in June, and another five were taken from vehicles at a car dealership. Thirty-six converters have been reported stolen in Durham this year.