Why thieves are looking under your car

Crime Tracker

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Criminals are looking under your car to steal your catalytic converter and sell it to a scrap yard for cash.

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Gates police say catalytic converters help control a vehicle’s emissions. Lt. Dave Sapienza says 11 have been stolen since May. “The primary target seems to be commercial trucks and vans although they’ll also steal off of regular passenger cars,” he explained.

Lt. Sapienza showed us surveillance footage from a recent catalytic converter theft. He says the crime usually happens at night. “They saw off the catalytic converter with a metal cutting saw and they’re done in probably less than a minute.”

The car part contains precious metals including platinum. Thieves sell it to scrap yards, in some cases for hundreds of dollars. “It’s definitely hard to prevent because it’s so random and there are so many vehicles that are just left outside at night,” noted Lt. Sapienza. “Obviously, people don’t have the ability to have every vehicle inside a garage or inside a fenced-in area. If you do have that option I would definitely recommend putting your vehicles inside.”

Visible surveillance cameras can also be a deterrent. Lt. Sapienza says a law allowing only certified repair shops to turn in catalytic converters to scrap yards would eliminate the financial incentive for thieves. Until then, he says – if you’re victimized – report the crime to the police.

“We appreciate it when you call it in because we want to know what the pattern is. Even if you don’t have video surveillance we still want to know that it occurred. There’s not always a ton of follow-up that we can do but if there is we’re definitely willing to put the work in to try to figure these things out.”

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