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Police see surge in catalytic converter thefts, leaving drivers with big bills

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Drivers across the Capital Region say they are increasingly becoming victims of a crime that has left them with large repair bills.

According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the area has seen a surge in thieves stealing catalytic converters. The converter is a part of a car’s exhaust that filters contaminants. Thieves are taking the part to sell. Inside are precious metals, such as platinum that can fetch a quick buck when sold to a scrapyard.

“They’re turning these in and retrieving money for this metal,” said Sgt. Don Coppola, a spokesman for BRPD.

Sam Hunyh, owner of Custom Muffler and CV Joint on Plank Road, said he has seen the number of customers needing catalytic converters nearly double over the last month. Hunyh said he typically only sees five or six customers needing the part but he has installed around 15 in July. He added customers report the parts have been stolen just about anywhere their cars are left.

“Their yard, left their vehicle at somebody else’s house, some people at work, place of church, some people own a church and a van - people be stealing everywhere, man,” noted Hunyh.

It is difficult to protect your car but Coppola has a few tips.

“Park in well-lit areas, park near entrances to buildings. If you have the capability of parking in an enclosed garage at your residence or business where that door shuts to keep that car protected. If you have a car alarm and you can calibrate to sense a vibration [then] if a vibration is detected, that is another recommendation,” explained Coppola.

RELATED: Two arrested, one wanted for alleged connection to catalytic converter thefts

If you are a victim, he said to call police and report the crime. If you know anything about someone stealing the catalytic converters, you’re urged to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867.

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