Though officials with the Griffin Police Department say the occurrence of this crime locally has been “relatively low,” there have been several recent reports of damage to catalytic converters on vehicles. Thus, they realize it has the potential to increase in frequency.
“It’s not to the point we’re seeing with metal thefts, such as copper, but it is becoming more of a problem here,” said Capt. Jeff Mason, GPD Zone 3 commander. “We wanted to get the word out so the public can be aware of what to look for. This way, people can be aware of suspicious behavior - people walking through a parking lot with a saw, people tampering with a car that isn’t their own - that sort of thing.”
Investigator Bryan Clanton, GPD public information officer, explained, “The method of operation for these thieves is to crawl under a vehicle and use a battery-powered saw to remove various metals from the catalytic converter.”
Clanton went on to say that this particular auto part is usually not connected to a car’s antitheft device, and the location within the engine allows the criminal to conceal his actions underneath the car, which eases access to the metals contained therein.
The three precious metals most commonly found in the part are platinum, palladium and rhodium.
These metals, Clanton said, are used in the manufacturing of electronics, jewelry, glass and medical and dental equipment.
“The materials can be sold to scrap metal dealers, just like stolen copper,” Clanton said. “Unfortunately, the thief will reap only a minimal profit while the vehicle owner may pay thousands of dollars to repair the car.”
Officials say nationally, Toyota trucks and sport utility vehicles are being targeted.
They say it appears that due to their design, the catalytic converters are easy to reach.
“However, any truck or sport utililty vehicle can be a target, due to its ground clearance. It would be very easy for thieves, especially if they know their way around a certain vehicle. Familiarity of which part they need to target and its location is very important for them,” Clanton said.
“We want to stop this trend before it becomes a more serious problem,” Mason said. “I hope that by making the public aware of this trend, they will do their part to try to prevent the crime.”
Preventive measures police officials recommend include the use of a garage if one is available, parking vehicles in well-lit areas, as well as within the vicinity of security cameras in public parking lots and reporting any suspicious activity to authorities.