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He tried to steal a catalytic converter. He died when the car fell on him.

Posted at 1:21 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 13:21:08-05

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A would-be catalytic converter thief was killed when the car he targeted fell on him during the attempted theft.

Investigators in Union County, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte, said they were called to a home last week after a homeowner returned and made a gruesome discovery.

"The homeowner pulls into the driveway, he's got multiple vehicles in his driveway, and sees basically the lower half of a person sticking out from the front bumper of his Toyota Prius," Union County Sheriff's Office investigator James Maye told WSOC. "It appears the vehicle had fell down on top of him while he was trying to cut the catalytic converter off of the car."

Deputies said they did not know for long the man had been under the car, but said the man's wife reported him missing earlier in the day.

"It's truly sad that this family is going to have to spend Christmas without him just based on his poor decisions," Maye said.

Catalytic converter thefts rising in Virginia, nationwide

Police are seeing an increase in thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles across the nation and in parts of Virginia.

Roanoke County police officer Greg Benton told The Roanoke Times that he didn’t think catalytic converter thefts have “ever been this prolific.”

Catalytic converters filter pollutants from car exhaust.

They're made with valuable precious metals and sit on the underside of a vehicle.

They can be removed in a matter of minutes with a machine-powered saw.

In July, insurance provider State Farm said it saw a three-fold jump in the number of catalytic converter claims filed over the past year.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau said the average monthly thefts across the nation had soared to 1,200 in 2020.

The Associated Press and WSOC/CNN Newsource contributed to this report.