There has been an alarming spike in catalytic converter thefts since last fall in New Hampshire, police are warning.
Experts say the part only takes a few minutes to remove from a car, but each one is worth hundreds of dollars, if not more.
“It’s amazing how expensive they really are,” explained Michael Shackford, the service manager at Tri-City Towing in Rochester.
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Catalytic converters are a kind of filter that's part of every vehicle, he said. On most models, they’re easily accessible.
“Your catalytic converter is pretty much right underneath the car,” Shackford said.
The trouble is that there’s no locking them up or keeping them from thieves.
“Usually they’ll take a Sawzall and cut and cut, and all you need is this piece right here,” Shackford explained, pointing to the larger, center piece of the pipe.
Inside are valuable precious metals, including platinum and palladium, that can go for $2,400 an ounce.
“People are selling them to second-hand dealers, junk dealers, and they are turning them in and stripping metals from the inside,” explained Rochester police Chief Paul Toussaint.
He said there’s a been an alarming spike in catalytic converter thefts since the fall.
“It’s something that is a concern to us, but it’s not a problem that’s unique to Rochester, it’s everywhere throughout the country,” Toussaint said.
In fact, police in Manchester, New Hampshire, have been releasing surveillance photos for months, searching for suspects involved in more than 75 converter thefts since October.
“You can’t break into people’s homes, because everybody is home, so what are you going to do,” Shackford said.
He’s convinced the pandemic is to blame.
“Unfortunately, times are tough for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s quick, easy money for someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Shackford also told us there are a lot of people out there right now looking to buy used catalytic converters and they don’t care if they’re stolen.
Police assured us they’re going after those people too.