Auto repair shops seeing a spike in catalytic converter thefts

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The past few weeks, sheriff’s offices in Florida and Alabama have been warning of catalytic converter theft, saying those thefts are becoming more common.

We spoke with several auto repair shops to understand just how often this is happening. Everyone we spoke with says they are seeing more and more of those kinds of thefts, as it only takes a few minutes to get them off your car.

“The past year or two, it’s gotten really bad to the point I can’t keep enough converters on my shelf to meet the demand,” said Daryl McDonald, a co-owner of McDonald Muffler.

McDonald says he has seen a spike in customers coming in with their catalytic converters stolen.

“We’ve probably done 40 in a week, no kidding,” said McDonald.

He says the parts are fairly easy to get to under your car to remove. “It’s been hitting a lot of the churches, the big companies U-Haul, Penske, places like that. Anybody with delivery vans, trucks, whatever, they’ve been eating them up,” he said.

The part helps keep your exhaust cleaner for the environment, and is made up of precious metals.

“Most vehicles have at least two converters on it they’re getting both and the two O2 sensors too, it can be an easy $1000 job or more,” said McDonald.

The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office spoke with us last week about their concerns with the increase in thefts.

“They’re selling them to various individuals or recycling businesses who purchase them legally, but they use a very loosely worded law… they know a lot of them are stolen, but they’ve got the verbiage on their side in order to purchase them,” said Captain Paul Burch.

And the thefts can leave more damage behind than a stolen part. “We’ve had a few that’s cut wire harnesses, dipsticks for your transmissions, transmission lines,” said McDonald.

The sheriff’s office says the best way to avoid any theft is to park in a garage if you can. If not, park in a well-lit area. They also advise businesses with more than one car to keep cameras pointed at the vehicles.

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