RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Richmond police are looking for a man who they say stole a truck’s catalytic converter late last month. It is just one of many recent thefts, with the number of converters stolen rising sharply in Virginia and across the country.
Catalytic converters cut down a car’s toxic emissions. This car part is easiest to steal on SUV’s or trucks because they’re already somewhat lifted.
Vinny Conigliaro, who works at Dr. Auto in Henrico, said you won’t find a car part that’s both as valuable and quick to steal as a catalytic converter. He said it can take as little as 10 to 20 seconds to steal, which is one reason why it’s happening so often — and all over the place.
“There’s platinum in these catalytic converters and they’re worth a lot of money,” Conigliaro said.
Thieves are getting between one and two hundred bucks for the metals, which are now more valuable than ever. The victims are paying up to a couple of thousand bucks to replace them.
The pandemic appears to play a role in the upward trend.
“People are in desperate times,” Conigliaro said.
In July, State Farm insurance said it saw a three-fold jump in the number of catalytic converter claims filed over the past year.
Conigliaro said that there isn’t much you can do to prevent the thefts from happening. He suggested people install a camera near their cars, make sure they park in well-lit areas, and said there are also some devices you can install to add a layer of protection.
Conigliaro said all manufacturers should start putting serial numbers on each car part, “but the scrap metal place has to take some sort of responsibility and say are you the owner of this vehicle.”
Police ask people to watch for thefts happening in their communities and give them a call if they see people lifting cars in public areas.