Earlier this month, Rockville Centre was hit with a string of catalytic converter thefts that left many car owners in the lurch.
A catalytic converter is an expensive part of a car’s exhaust system that converts the gas in the exhaust to less-toxic pollutants. Catalytic converters are expensive pieces of equipment full of rare metals, making them popular targets for thievery, to be sold as scrap or to mechanics.
Between Feb. 3 and 4, the Rockville Centre Police Department received complaints of a dozen catalytic converters being stolen from cars. Each ranges in value from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the make and model of the car.
“[The thefts] were reported over two days, but we’re pretty sure they all happened the same night,” said RVCPD Commissioner Charles Gennario. “Especially in this weather, they’ve been targeting cars that are a little higher because they’re easier to get under.”
Catalytic converters are generally either bolted or welded on to cars. Thieves can quickly remove the bolted-on converters or employ cordless reciprocating saws to remove welded-on ones, which can cause damage to the car.
“It’s big money because the catalytic converters are very expensive,” Gennario said, adding that he believed many of the catalytic converters were being sold to mechanics. “I just had mine [replaced] on my car and it cost me $5,000,” he said. “So if they’re selling them to these mechanics at a cheap rate, you can imagine the money that they’re making.”
Thefts of catalytic converters are more common at car dealerships, where security is lax and catalytic converters are abundant. But some of the Rockville Centre thefts were from cars parked in village lots. Others were taken from trucks from construction companies and U-Hauls.
While it’s hard to protect your car from this type of theft, it’s not impossible. Gennario said that people should always try to park their cars in well-lit areas. If possible, light your driveway at home as well.
“Lights are the best friend of good people and the cops,” he said, “and bad guys hate them.”