Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Catalyst for Crime

Cranky Yankee over at the New England Anomaly caught this Maine crime story, which shows up in today's Lewiston Sun Journal (click link to read full story).
Thieves targeting catalytic converters from cars, trucks
By David Sharp, Associated Press Writer |
February 6, 2007
Associated Press

BANGOR, Maine --Thieves have long targeted stereos, radar detectors, air bags, compact discs and even pocket change from

The latest item being snatched from cars and trucks has unsuspecting motorists scratching their heads. The targeted vehicle may look just fine but the exhaust lets out a NASCAR-like roar when the operator turns the key.

It turns out thieves are crawling under vehicles and cutting away catalytic converters, making them a hot commodity in more ways than one at scrap yards.
In Bangor, medical secretary Karen Thompson found out the hard way when she was summoned by hospital security to the parking lot, where someone had cut away the converters from several vehicles including her 2006 Toyota Tundra pickup truck. The telltale evidence came when she started it. Because someone had sawed through the exhaust pipe, the truck rumbled as if there was no muffler.

"It was really, really loud. The rearview mirror shook," Thompson recounted. The cost of replacement and repairs at her local Toyota dealership was $2,100.
Thieves tend to target sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks because they don't have to be jacked up. They can simply slither under the vehicle and saw away the catalytic converter within minutes, investigators said.

In Bangor, the thefts from a busy hospital parking lot that's patrolled by security staff illustrate the ease with which converters can be stolen. Thompson remains incredulous that someone managed to crawl under her truck and cut away part of her exhaust system without attracting attention. "It was pretty gutsy to do it in broad daylight," she said.

Police say it's hard to nail a thief unless they're caught in the act, and that's what happened last week across the river in Brewer. Police received a report of a theft behind an auto repair shop. The thieves were gone by the time police arrived but the getaway car had backed into a snowbank and left an imprint of the licence plate, said Brewer Police Detective Sgt. Jay Munson.

Brewer police used the license plate number and tire impressions in the snow to track down the car and secure a search warrant. Inside, investigators found two battery-powered saws, a portable jack and three catalytic converters, Munson said.
I guess we can't count on all of them to leave their license plates imprinted on snowbanks. Good job by the Brewer Police, catching that well-hidden clue! So keep an eye out... those puppies are expensive to replace, and all the jerks who are stealing them are paying for them with an easily fixable wet rear end from shimmying in and out from underneath your vehicle.

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