RICHMOND, Va., -- Richmond Police are warning residents about a string of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles over the last few weeks.
The thefts were reported to have occurred in the Church Hill neighborhood on at least four occasions.
Charmaine Colors’ neighbor on North 24th Street was a victim of the thieves on February 19.
“I was noticing my neighbors kept going outside looking under their cars,” Colors recalled. “It’s like a thief in the night.”
Catalytic converters on church vans at Cedar Street Baptist a few doors down were also stolen, according to police. Converters were also recently taken from vehicles near 28th and Clay Streets as well as on East Broad Street.
A catalytic converter is a part of the vehicles exhaust system which helps reduce vehicle pollution. The car parts have become a hot commodity for thieves because it is made of valuable metals like platinum and palladium.
AAA public and government affairs senior specialist Morgan Dean said replacing a converter costs between $600 to $2,300.
“They’re able to wiggle under these cars - they’re using a saw and they’re cutting them off very quickly,” Dean explained.
He recommended parking your car in a garage, if available, as the best protection from the thieves.
“If you park it on the street, there’s obviously a little more risk there or in a parking lot,” Dean stated. “Try to park in a well-lit area. That’s going to deter some thieves from coming up against your vehicle.”
The converters are then taken to metal recyclers where recyclers pay $50 per converter and up to $250 for certain converters.
Experts say you will know right away if your catalytic converter has been stolen when you start your vehicle. They added that your vehicle will be very loud and will sound like you don’t have a muffler.
Anyone with information was asked to call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.