JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are working to curb thefts of catalytic converters from automobiles, a crime that has not spared Northeast Florida.
On Dec. 5, Bram Scharf said he was in the process of moving his company pick-up truck, started the ignition, and was immediately curious about the sound it was making.
“As soon as I started my engine, it sounded like a NASCAR,” Scharf said. “Loud noise that I’d never heard before, and so I immediately shut it off.”
Scharf said he called his son and together, they examined the car and discovered that one of the two catalytic converters on the truck had been tampered with -- the other had been stolen.
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“At first, I was in shock because I had never even heard of catalytic converters getting stolen and my son was saying, ‘yeah, it’s gonna cost a lot of money,’” Scharf said. “So, I was just like, ‘Okay, I’m just gonna call the police,’ -- and they came out and they’re the ones that told me that it’s actually a huge problem in Jacksonville, and nationwide.”
On Christmas Eve, a bakery outlet on New Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville was broken into and a thief hauled off the catalytic converters from eight shipping trucks.
Law enforcement officials say the catalytic converter is a particularly attractive target for thieves because of the pricey components used to make them and the fact that they’re typically pretty simple to extract.
Kenny Wilson owns and operates S & W Muffler Shops and said missing catalytic converters are a common complaint.
“It seems to pick up around the 15th of the month, we seem to get a lot of calls on people waking up with loud cars, converters being gone,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that thieves will typically have a much more difficult time *selling the stolen car parts than stealing them in the first place.
“Guys that legitimately buy converters will not buy a stolen converter,” if you don’t have a reason to own it, they’re not gonna buy it from you, it’s illegal for them to buy,” Wilson said.
JSO says you can help avoid being victimized by scrutinizing where you park or leave your car overnight:
- 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 the police out if there is a theft.
- Avoid parking in unattended business or public lots for extended periods of time.