JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Every vehicle made since 1975 has one: A catalytic converter.
It transforms your car’s emissions into less harmful byproducts, but because of the pricey components used to make them, police are warning that they’ve become a frequent target for thieves trying to make a quick buck.
Someone broke into a bakery outlet on New Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville over the weekend and hauled off the catalytic converters from eight shipping trucks.
According to the police report, someone showed up after the staff left on Christmas Eve, cut through a chain-link fence and ripped the converters out of the trucks.
New4JAX crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said criminals like catalytic converters so much because they’re usually quick and easy grabs.
“It’s easy money for them. If they can steal it and get it to a metal shop somewhere, they get money for it,” Jefferson said.
Police are still running down leads and didn’t provide any suspect information.
“People need to realize that these are hot items attached to their cars and thieves want to steal them, so take every necessary precaution that they can to prevent that from happening,” Jefferson said.
What are some of those precautions?
JSO says it starts with where you park your car:
- Choose a well-lit, populated area to park.
- If your house has a garage, use it if you can.
- Use motion-activated cameras or video surveillance systems to help police out if there is a theft.
- Avoid parking in unattended business or public lots for extended periods of time.
You can also explore aftermarket options for protecting your convertor. For example, auto-parts retailers offer metal plates to make the part far more difficult to remove, as well as motion-sensing alarm systems for your vehicle.
After stealing a catalytic converter, the next challenge for the criminal is selling it for cash, and there are some laws on the books that make that a lot harder to do.
In fact, in Florida, there’s a law that criminalizes doing business with any unregistered secondary metals recycler.
There are also federal laws that are being discussed that would make it harder to sell stolen goods online.