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Catalytic converter thefts rising again. | News

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Catalytic converter thefts rising again.

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a good thief armed with the right tools can get under your car and steal your car's catalytic converter.

You'll know it, because your car will suddenly sound like a motorcycle. And that's when you'll end up in the auto repair shop, facing a huge bill.

"Most vehicles you'll find at least one catalytic converter," said Jose Azcuy of Buckhead Mufflers. "Many vehicles have multiple converters."


And depending on the model vehicle you have, each one can be worth upwards of $200 when taken to a recycling facility. That's because of the precious metals inside.

"The key ingredient is rhodium or platinum," said Azcuy. "And those precious metals break down the pollutants and carbon monoxide that most gasoline engines produce."

Generally speaking, original or replacement converters from the auto dealer are worth more than those that are aftermarket, where typically only the minimum required materials are used.

"These guys know what they're looking for; they know what they're doing," said Officer Tim Fecht of the Dunwoody Police Department. "If they have power tools, it's pretty easy and efficient, and it probably takes them less than a minute."

The thieves seem to be working along a corridor that includes cities like Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, and Roswell, all of which have been hard hit since the beginning of the year. There have been at least 29 thefts reported to the police in those communities.

"Just in this week, we've had six additional thefts," said Fecht. "They're all occurring to Honda models."

And while the thieves can make $200 in two minutes, the car owner may be out $2,000 because of all the collateral damage to the vehicles undercarriage.

"Especially CRV's, Honda Elements, and Toyota 4Runners… cars that sit up off the ground a little bit," said Azcuy. "And when they do it can cost the consumer a thousand to $2,500 to replace a converter."

You can hear a reciprocating saw when it's used to cut the pipes leading to the catalytic converter, but some are bolted on and you won't be able to hear the ratchet turning. There are ways to prevent the thefts like using a device called a "cat cage," but you should check with your mechanic before using on.