(St. Joseph and La Porte Counties) - Catalytic converters from car exhausts have become a hot target for thieves. The South Bend Police Department reports 85 such thefts in the past two months, which is more than eight times as many reported stolen last winter.
According to La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd, the problem locally is not as bad, but is still a concern. Boyd said, “we’ve had a few isolated cases in the last three or four months. The last incident about catalytic converter being stolen was reported to us about two weeks ago. But I do know that Michigan City has had a number of thefts of catalytic converters and just about every other agency in this area, even up into Michigan”.
Thieves with a cutting tool make quick work of the job. They’re after the precious metal in the exhaust part. Sheriff Boyd says it's important to be on alert for suspicious activity around parked cars. “It only takes a couple of minutes for someone to get underneath the car and remove the catalytic converter. The unfortunate thing for the victim is that it's extremely expensive and it can take as much as a day off of work in order to get that catalytic converter replaced. And in some cases, especially with new cars, they won't start without the catalytic converter”, Boyd explained.
The cost to replace the catalytic converter can easily be $1000 or more. Right now, such a theft is only a misdemeanor. There is currently a bill working its way through the State Legislature though, to raise it to a felony.