Local News

Thefts of catalytic converters on the rise

Posted August 4, 2008 5:34 p.m. EDT
Updated August 4, 2008 9:43 p.m. EDT

— Thieves looking to steal catalytic converters from vehicles are on the prowl in the Triangle.

Jake Wessell found out his catalytic converter was gone when his wife called about their 2006 Toyota Tundra.

“She called me up and said, 'Something's wrong with the truck.' (She) said it revved really loud," Wessell recalled.

Someone slipped under Wessell's truck and sawed out the catalytic converter while it was parked Friday in the Smith Barney parking lot off Spring Forest Road.

“I just couldn't believe it. I was dumbfounded,” Wessell said.

Wessell is not the only victim, as catalytic converter thefts rise.

“This is probably the fifth or sixth vehicle, at least, in the past two or three weeks that we've been seeing,” J. Cox, manager of Fred Anderson Toyota, said.

Cox said thieves can make a few hundred bucks off the emission-reduction device, selling the trace precious metals inside for scrap.

“As the dollar weakens, these precious metals become more valuable,” Wessell said.

Wessell has insurance, but the cost to replace a catalytic converter is not cheap. He is expecting to pay about $3,500.

Trucks are common targets because their ground clearance offers easy access for thieves.

“The bigger jacked up trucks are what we're seeing the most of,” Cox said.

“Instead of people stealing your gas, they're going to come after your catalytic converters,” Wessell warned.

Wessell said he is so frustrated, he is calling for legislation to toughen penalties for converter thefts. In the meantime, he said, he will be parking in public places where more people can keep an eye on his truck.