Rumor has it that Toledo has a fun new theft epidemic; stealing the catalytic converters off of vehicles. One was stolen off of a car in Target's parking lot yesterday evening. Obviously they're targeting taller vehicles :?
Originally Posted by Toledo Blade
Catalytic converter thefts rise in Toledo
Black market buys platinum, copper
By LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mark Janowiecki put up a fence, installed security cameras, and increased lighting at his heating and cooling business in downtown Toledo, but it hasn't stopped thieves from breaking in.
On Saturday, someone cut the fence that surrounds M&M Heating & Cooling Inc., 1515 Washington St., and stole catalytic converters from five company vehicles and copper piping from air-conditioning units.
He said his loss totaled about $10,000, about $2,000 for the converters and $8,000 in copper.
Mr. Janowiecki said he doesn't want to move out of Toledo, but he's run out of options.
"I like downtown, but it's getting hard to survive down here," said Mr. Janowiecki, company president. He plans to move his firm to Rossford by next year.
The theft of catalytic converters has become increasingly worse during the last year because the platinum inside them makes them a desirable theft target, said Toledo police Sgt. Chris Delaney, of the theft unit.
Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle's exhaust system that reduces harmful emissions.
Platinum is a precious metal and is sold at an average of $1,252 per troy ounce, the standard unit used to measure precious metals. Twelve troy ounces equals one pound.
The price of platinum has continued to climb over the last four years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, an agency that is part of the Department of Interior.
Police said thieves are selling stolen converters to scrap yards or auto repair shops, though they are unsure at what price.
"It's mostly black market," Sergeant Delaney said. "No legitimate scrap yard or garage would buy those from some guy in a pickup truck."
Joel Scheinbach, warehouse manager at Pat Young Service Co., an auto parts distributor, said it frustrates him knowing there are people willing to purchase stolen property.
Mr. Scheinbach said catalytic converters were stolen last week from four of the 10 vehicles he had parked on his property at 1122 Monroe St.
He estimates thieves receive between $75 and $150 for a stolen catalytic converter.
Mr. Scheinbach decided to install motion-sensing lights and security cameras in an effort to deter thieves at the business, which is surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.
"If I can't service my customers, they'll go elsewhere," Mr. Scheinbach said.
It's estimated that between 300 and 500 catalytic converters were stolen from Faurecia Exhaust Systems Inc., 543 Matzinger Rd., which manufactures catalytic converters and exhaust systems, during the last year.
Two hundred of those were stolen within the last month, according to a police report.
The estimated loss was between $25,000 and $30,000, a police report stated.
Catalytic converters can be removed from a vehicle within minutes using an electric saw.
They often are stolen from pickups, delivery vehicles, and sport utility vehicles that are higher off of the ground, making it easier for thieves to crawl underneath, Sergeant Delaney said.
Initially, thieves targeted businesses like Mr. Janowiecki's, which have several service vehicles parked outside. But now they're stealing catalytic converters randomly from vehicles, the sergeant said.
A catalytic converter was stolen from a man's vehicle while he was inside a hardware store, Sergeant Delaney said.
"It's gotten to where these guys are getting them pretty quick," he said.
Bob Amonette, who owns Bob's Tire & Auto, 1618 Monroe St., said he installed a catalytic converter in a woman's minivan last week after it had been stolen while she was at a sporting event at Waite High School. Her bill was $649.
Police continue to investigate thefts of catalytic converts, but Sergeant Delaney said making arrests is difficult unless they catch thieves in the act or someone tips off authorities.
And the sergeant said that isn't usually the case.
"The people who are buying them have to know they're stolen," he said.
anyone else know anyone who got hit?