NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Thieves targeting catalytic converters have hit at least nine cars and trucks parked at repair shops along Lorain Road in recent weeks, according to North Olmsted police reports.
Two of those thefts happened at Advanced Diagnostics Auto Repair.
"You start to look over your shoulder and understand that there are some people that aren't on your side," said owner Jay Petek.
After the first case in late December, Petek said he upgraded his security cameras.
Within weeks, it paid off. The cameras captured clear video of a man and woman appearing to work as a team stealing a catalytic converter from a van that was parked waiting for repairs.
The theft happened on a Sunday afternoon when the shop was closed.
Petek said when mechanics started the van to pull in for repairs, they knew right away they'd been hit again.
"We went to pull the vehicle in and there it was, very loud," said Petek. "You kind of know at that point what it is."
Catalytic converters are part of cars' exhaust systems. They can also be valuable to thieves who scrap them for quick cash.
"There's precious metals involved," said Petek. "It's platinum. They're worth some money based on the metals that are inside the converters."
Police reports show thieves also hit a nearby maintenance facility where trucks were parked and a car dealership in recent weeks.
As the thefts add up, so does the price of repairs for Petek who has covered the expense of replacing catalytic converters stolen from his parking lot.
He said replacements can cost between $500 to $1,500.
"We don't want to be buying catalytic converters, I want to promise you that," said Petek.
He's hoping someone will recognize the pair caught on camera stealing from his shop and call police, hoping it puts the brakes on this string of thefts.
"I understand times are tough," said Petek, "but if you need a job, come and see me. I don't need to be stolen from."
North Olmsted police said officers are following up on leads trying to identify the thieves.
They said two ways people can protect their cars is to either park inside in a garage or park in a well-lit area near the entrance of a building.