Colorado to Monitor Catalytic Converters as Auto Parts Theft Rises

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Over the past few months, Steve’s Automotive mechanics have received numerous calls from people asking if they are working on catalytic converter car parts.

But because the calls have become so frequent, the mechanics at the store have learned what callers do and now know exactly how to handle requests.

“We’re saying we’re not even touching the catalytic converters,” said Charles Patterson, part-owner of the auto company on Second Avenue in Longmont. “It’s crazy. Every month they (call and) try the same thing.

Recently, a customer who owns a fleet of work vans told Patterson that four converters were stolen from his vehicles, Patterson said.

“They park their vehicles here so as not to lose the others,” he said.

In recent years, the theft of auto parts – especially catalytic converters – has increased as people rip them from under parked cars and sell them for hundreds of dollars.

So far this year, the Longmont Public Safety Department has reported about 59 catalytic converters stolen from cars in the city. Last year the ministry had 12 reports and three in 2019.

“This is definitely something that has grown dramatically over the past few years,” said Detective Cassidy Jones of Longmont Public Safety. “It’s easy money. It only takes a few minutes to make and has a pretty good payout and takes little material to make.

Patterson said removing a catalytic converter can be done in minutes.

“They are just attached with a few bolts,” he said. “It’s like a silencer. Just loosen them and pull.

Jones said catalytic converter theft has become a nationwide problem.

“Between the pandemic and a lot of people out of work and looking for that quick cash, it’s an easy way to get the money pretty quick,” she said.

A converter can sell between $ 50 and $ 800, Jones said. The costly side is replacing the car part if it is stolen. It can cost anywhere from $ 1,000 or more.

Brian Rosipajla, deputy chief of the Lafayette Police Department, urges residents of Boulder County to be alert. If they see someone crawling under a vehicle and it looks suspicious, report it.

“One thing we ask the public is if you see something, say something,” he said. “We are monitoring the situation closely. Many of our flights come from everywhere, even to public places such as the hospital. “

Rosipajla said what makes catalytic converters a staple other than their ease of disposal are the precious metals they contain, such as palladium and rhodium.

Some people have purchased aftermarket products such as cages to place around converters, but people also brand them or spray paint them to help them stand out in the event of theft, Rosipajla said.

Sgt. Vinnie Montez, of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, said the county has seen an increase in auto parts theft over the past year.

“From the information I got, people are selling these catalytic converters on the aftermarket or scrapping them,” he said. “I know we answer calls and I heard Lafayette make calls.”

Colorado State Patrol is currently working with AAA on an auto theft prevention program. As part of the program, mechanics add serial numbers to converters to make it easier to track the part in a database in the event of theft.

“There are repair shops that are able to put this number engraved on the metal of the catalytic converter, which allows us to track it and reattach it to the vehicle,” said the sergeant. Blake White with the Colorado State Patrol. “(It’s) not only for the salvage of these, it helps prevent the junkyard from buying them because it shows it’s tied to a vehicle.”

White said CPS and AAA are already working with some mechanics statewide, but have plans to expand the program.

“I was actually talking to my physiotherapist who had his cut,” he said. “She said her insurance covered half of it and she was responsible for the rest. It’s just such a quick crime.

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