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Columbia police: Stolen catalytic converters cases as cost of metals rise

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia Police Department is reporting a rise in stolen catalytic converters in the area. According to a report, there was a total of 78 catalytic converters stolen in 2020 and 96 so far for this year.

Thieves steal the catalytic converter because of the precious metals in them. Converters contain platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Sgt. Matt Gremore, head of the larceny unit at Columbia Police Department, said individuals can help law enforcement agencies trace their stolen catalytic converters with a UV pen.

"Some departments have asked for people to take a UV pen to mark the converter where it is numbered. It will let us know that they marked where we specifically can tie that vehicle to the converter," said Gremore.

Gremore added that his unit is small in numbers but some progress is still being made in solving catalytic converter crimes. "We got some people identified as far as who we believe is responsible for these thefts. Obviously, there's probably more than what we know of and I don't believe all of these get reported to the police but yes we made some progress," said Gremore.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the presence of precious metals can easily bring anywhere from $20 - $240 in recycling value depending on the amount and type of they contain. It takes a thief with a couple of tools about two to two and half minutes to steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle.

According to a report provided by CPD, it cost on average $1,500 to $2,000 to replace a catalytic converter, not counting the transportation impacts while the car is in the shop. If Individuals feel they may become a victim, they can purchase catalytic converters security devices.

Anyone can be a victim of a catalytic converter theft. Local car lots and exhaust shops have told ABC 17 that vehicles that sit high off the ground and economy cars, like the Toyota Prius, because of their exhaust design are common targets.

A & T Auto Sales Office Manager Jana Crouch says the business has lost thousands of dollars in sales because of this problem.

"You don't realize that the catalytic convert has been cut. You start it up and it sounds horrible. Somebody going to be like I don't think I want to buy that," said Crouch

Crouch added that after doing some searching, she feels a security device can be a benefit to everyone. "After doing a lot of research, I've really realized how helpful having a plate underneath can be.It would be really nice if they were standard on new vehicles."

Catalytic converter thefts are not just problems in the Columbia area but also in Mid-Missouri. California Missouri police posted on FaceBook

Dear residents, We have recently experienced incidents of theft involving catalytic converters from motor vehicles. The latest incidents were near the Latham Rd. and West St. area. We presently have no suspects, as the thefts seemed to have occurred late at night or in the early morning hours."

California MO PD

Missouri now has passed a new law that will address stolen catalytic converters in the state. Now, anyone who buys a catalytic must keep the converter stock for five business days before making any changes.

The new law also requires certain records to be kept for three years. Anyone who knowingly buys a stolen catalytic converter will be fined $5,000 the first time and lose their license after the third offense.

Joushua Blount

Joushua Blount hails from Cleveland, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in media communications from the University of Toledo. He also has a master’s degree from the University Of Alabama. Roll Tide!

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