(KMOV) – If you park your car outside at work, home or a commuter lot, you might be a target for thieves looking for catalytic converters.
The converters are emission control units, and they are big business for thieves and a financial pain for victims.
One local man had his catalytic converter stolen last week, and it cost him $275 to replace. However, he fears thieves may return to his home because his car is parked outside every night.
Jeff Tash’s car was fixed at the Custom Muffler Shop where workers have helped three victims in the past four days.
Apparently, thieves are after the “honeycomb” material inside the converters. It holds small amounts of platinum, which is worth a lot to those who can salvage it. To get the converter, thieves use a saw to cut the units from cars.
Police say commuter lots like the one at Interstate 55 and Reavis Barracks are favorite spots for thieves where There are lots of cars left alone for long periods of time. Thieves have also hit the commuter lot at Interstate 44 and Antire Road.
There have been more than 40 of these types of thefts in St. Louis County so far in 2010. St. Louis city police couldn’t give a number specific to catalytic converters. However, they’ve had 3,700 larcenies involving auto parts.
Catalytic converter thefts have become such a problem around the country that muffler shops in Oregon are voluntarily mounting devices to discourage the thieves. There is no such effort yet in the St. Louis area.
Neighborhood watch organizations and car alarm systems are two preventative measures that might help thwart theft.