news4jax, Vic Micolucci, December 29, 2022
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4JAX I-TEAM has learned Jacksonville police alone worked 900 cases of catalytic converter theft in the first 11 months of 2022. Many cases involve multiple vehicles at the same address, making the total number of converters stolen greater than 900.
A catalytic converter is designed to reduce emissions from a vehicles exhaust, using precious metals to filter them out.
Surveillance video from a used car lot on Atlantic Boulevard Christmas morning has the sound of a battery-powered saw under an SUV. It only takes seconds for a trio of thieves to cut out the expensive catalytic converter.
Another security camera captures the crooks walking away with several of the high-priced auto parts.
“We did have footage of a car that was circling the block out back, and, hopefully, that can help lead to some clues of who these people are,” said March Motors general manager Jason March.
He told News4JAX that they took catalytic converters from eight different vehicles. So far, no one has been arrested.
March said replacements and repairs are costing the dealer about a thousand dollars per vehicle.
“They can arrive on scene, do what they do and be gone in 30 seconds,” said Officer Tami Dash, with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
JSO burglary, auto burglary and scrap metal unit detectives are working hundreds of cases across the city. Police have arrested several suspected burglars for catalytic converter thefts, noting they often strike several locations.
Reports total 900 separate catalytic converter thefts from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2022. We should note that burglars stole multiple converters in many of those cases, targeting homes and businesses alike.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s one of the most valuable parts of the vehicle itself,” said JSO Officer Max Morel. “It’s easy for them to go off and [scrap] them.”
Detectives are checking scrapyards and online swap shops for the pilfered parts.
“It is illegal if you are buying something that a reasonable person would believe to be stolen,” Dash added.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports more catalytic converter thefts than ever before, as the precious metals used skyrocket in cost.
Rhodium was valued at $14,500 per ounce, palladium at $2,336 per ounce and platinum going for $1,061 per ounce, according to numbers from the NICB.
Typically, recyclers will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter.
Police are asking people to report suspicious activity, to park in a well-lit area where others can see your vehicle, and if you have an enclosed space like a garage, use it.
Officers note that you can engrave your car’s Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, onto the part or have a mechanic reinforce it with a bar or an alarm.
If you know anything about who’s behind these thefts, police say you can call JSO at 904-630-0500. Or you can contact First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477), and tipsters can remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward.
Meanwhile, deputies with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office arrested three men accused of stealing catalytic converters. Deputies spotted a vehicle, which had been reported stolen from Osceola County, and chased it.