RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Within the tiny city of Lawrenceville, Virginia, a van owned by Poplar Mount Baptist Church was knocked out of fee for weeks after thieves minimize the catalytic converter out of its exhaust system.

A number of months later, throughout city, a catalytic converter was ripped from a van owned by First Baptist Church.

Comparable crimes adopted, focusing on a complete of 15 church vans and 13 different automobiles on the town, a part of a nationwide surge in thefts of catalytic converters.

Thefts of the exhaust emission control devices have jumped over the previous two years as costs for the valuable metals they include have skyrocketed. Thieves can anticipate to get anyplace from $50 to $300 in the event that they promote the converters to scrap yards, which then promote them to recycling services to reclaim the valuable metals inside, together with platinum, palladium and rhodium.

For victims, the prices of changing a stolen catalytic converter can simply prime $1,000 and make their car undrivable for days or perhaps weeks because the half is ordered and put in. It will possibly additionally go away homeowners feeling weak.

“Simply to really feel that the church property was invaded by thieves was disheartening,” mentioned John Robinson, a member of Poplar Mount Baptist Church.

Robinson mentioned changing the stolen converter price about $1,000. The theft was coated by insurance coverage, however the church needed to pay its $250 deductible and was unable to make use of the van for six weeks because it sat in a mechanic’s yard ready for a brand new half.

Utah lawmakers are considering a crackdown on theft of the emission control devices from cars that are stolen for the precious metals found inside.
Utah lawmakers are contemplating a crackdown on theft of the emission management units from automobiles which might be stolen for the valuable metals discovered inside.

Utah Lawyer Common’s Workplace by way of Related Press

The Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau mentioned the variety of catalytic converter thefts reported in claims to insurance coverage firms jumped from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 in 2020. NICB President David Glawe mentioned there was a major enhance in thefts for the reason that starting of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s an opportunistic crime,” Glawe mentioned in an announcement. “As the worth of the valuable metals contained throughout the catalytic converters continues to extend, so do the variety of thefts of those units. There’s a clear connection between occasions of disaster, restricted assets, and disruption of the provision chain that drives buyers in the direction of these treasured metals.”

The rise in thefts has prompted states throughout the nation to toughen penalties and impose new necessities for scrap steel sellers who purchase the converters. Ten states enacted new laws in 2021, together with legal guidelines in Arkansas, South Carolina and Texas that require scrap steel consumers of used converters to keep up information of purchases, together with proof of possession, car identification numbers, the vendor’s house tackle and driver’s license numbers, in line with the insurance coverage crime bureau.

In North Carolina, a legislation that went into impact Dec. 1 makes catalytic converter thefts a Class I felony and requires companies that purchase used catalytic converters to get documentation and keep detailed information on individuals who promote the units to them.

A invoice modeled after the North Carolina legislation will likely be launched in Virginia when the legislature reconvenes in January. The measure would make the theft of a catalytic converter a felony and presume that anybody in possession of 1 that’s been faraway from a car has obtained it illegally except the individual is a certified scrap vendor or has a invoice of sale, receipt or different documentation.

“It might make it extra dangerous for the thieves to steal them,” mentioned Sen. Frank Ruff Jr., who’s sponsoring the invoice. “The sellers must present extra identification, after which on the identical time, the salvage supplier wouldn’t wish to get in hassle so he’d be much less prone to enable them to promote to him.”

Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts, who has seen the variety of thefts in his rural space develop from seven to 9 yearly to twenty-eight this 12 months, mentioned converters might be stolen in minutes. Thieves want solely crawl underneath a car and use a battery-operated reciprocating noticed to chop via the steel and take away the half, he mentioned.

In Henrico County, the place about 540 catalytic converters have been reported stolen this 12 months, police have produced public service bulletins to lift consciousness.

David Overby, proprietor of Auto Repairs Plus, mentioned he spent greater than $5,000 on lighting and a safety system with cameras after thieves repeatedly stole catalytic converters off his prospects’ automobiles in his car parking zone. Overby mentioned police arrested two folks caught on his cameras stealing converters, however he mentioned underneath the present legislation, they have been solely charged with a misdemeanor.

“These folks have gotten to be held accountable indirectly, not given a slap on their wrist,” Overby mentioned.

At Chesterfield Auto Components, the place prospects can pull components from junked automobiles, proprietor Troy Webber mentioned his employees take away catalytic converters earlier than the automobiles are made obtainable to the general public, then lock the units in metal containers earlier than promoting them to auto recyclers. That doesn’t cease thieves from making an attempt to interrupt in, he mentioned.

“Folks minimize via our fence consistently to attempt to steal the catalytic converters,” he mentioned.

Henrico police Chief Eric English mentioned catalytic converters have been minimize from automobiles parked in householders’ driveways. Police have suggested folks about theft prevention measures, together with protecting shields and covers for the converters. They’ve additionally supplied to stencil a mark on catalytic converters to permit scrap yard sellers and recyclers to extra simply id a stolen converter.

“It’s undoubtedly one thing we’ve got to come up with as a result of it’s inflicting a whole lot of households and lots of people some heartburn,” English mentioned. “It’s not one thing folks need to have occur to them.”


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