www.observertoday.com,  Eric Tichy, Sept 2, 2022

SILVER CREEK — It was evident pretty quickly about a month ago that something was amiss with the Ford F-250 truck. To Robert Bankoski, public works superintendent for the village of Silver Creek, the vehicle sounded like it was part of a demolition derby.

The culprit: a stolen catalytic converter.

“We left it out and the next day we didn’t use it,” Bankoski recalled of the truck used by the village DPW. “When we did start it, it sounded like a demolition derby. We called the Sheriff’s Office and reported it.”

Village officials believe someone may have entered the DPW grounds where Routes 5 and 20 meet from the railroad tracks to the north and removed the catalytic converter from the truck.

Bankoski said security footage was checked, but noted that the expensive theft occurred at night. “You couldn’t really see what happened,” he said.

Catalytic converters filter pollutants from car exhaust. According to the Associated Press, the emission control devices are made with valuable precious metals and sit on the underside of a vehicle; they can be removed in a matter of minutes with a machine-powered saw.

In a report from January, the AP said thefts of catalytic converter have jumped over the past two years as prices for the metals they contain have skyrocketed. Thieves can expect to get anywhere from $50 to $300 if they sell the converters to scrap yards, which then sell them to recycling facilities to reclaim the precious metals inside, including platinum, palladium and rhodium.

In 2020, average monthly thefts of catalytic converters across the country soared to 1,203. There were 282 a month in 2019, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said in a report.

In April 2021, the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office announced charges to an Erie County man following an investigation into stolen catalytic converters and damaged vehicles in the town of Hanover. No other theft has been reported recently by area police. Continue article