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Thieves removing catalytic converters in vehicles across Northeast Ohio

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Posted at 11:25 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 19:19:26-04

CLEVELAND — Thieves are turning car parts into cash around Northeast Ohio.

In the first three months of this year, police in Cleveland, Twinsburg, North Olmsted and Brooklyn Heights all reported multiple thefts of catalytic converters. In Mentor, police tell News 5 18 have been taken this year.

The highest number of thefts were reported in Lorain, where 54 catalytic converters have been stolen in 2021.

Catalytic converters are part of your car’s exhaust system, working as an anti-pollution device. Your vehicle will make a loud sound. Often, it’s not a missing muffler as you might suspect, but a carried off catalytic converter behind the loud exhaust.

The converters are made from valuable metals like Rhodium, with just an ounce worth about $28,000. It can take seconds for a thief to remove the converter from your ride to turn a quick profit. When sold for scrap metal, it’s worth about $1,000.

What’s worse, getting a replacement can cost nearly three times as much.

Hybrid vehicles are a particular target because they contain the largest amount of expensive metals. However, for a few hundred dollars you can invest in a metal guard to keep the crooks away.

Ohio does have laws in place to fight this kind of activity, like only allowing one catalytic converter, per person, per day to be sold to a scrap metal dealer.

If police do happen to recover a stolen converter, it’s unlikely it will be returned to its rightful owner. Catalytic converters don’t have an identification number, so they’re hard to trace. Authorities suggest etching their VIN number or driver’s license number onto them as a precaution.

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