Catalytic converter thefts on the rise; sold as scrap metal for cash

Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 3:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Thieves are targeting a certain car part that can get them some quick cash. Authorities say thefts of catalytic converters are becoming a big problem across the Lowcountry.

Surveillance photos showed a man suspected of stealing catalytic converters from cars at a business in Ravenel. The owner of Palmetto 4x4 said it happened on Labor Day weekend.

“Hit nine different vehicles cutting catalytic converters out of them. They were selling for metal scrap, got me for about $5,200,” Lawrence Collins said.

Catalytic converters are part of a car’s exhaust system. They contain precious metals that can put hundreds of dollars in a thief’s pocket.

Richard Corbin, who owns Ravenel Truck and Equipment, says about two dozen catalytic converters were cut out of cars at his business in the last four months. That includes one that was taken from a bus that belongs to one of his customers.

“They go underneath the bus, go take a hacksaw. They’ll cut the two pipes, drag it out and then just tow it off,” Corbin said.

Collins said the man who stole from him took his time.

“Four hours he was here from 1:13 till 4:42. A lot of guts,” Collins said.

Berkeley County authorities said on Tuesday a suspected catalytic converter thief was shot and wounded by the owner of a car lot near Moncks Corner.

Collins is concerned it could happen again.

“Somebody, the wrong person, will catch him at the wrong time same thing as yesterday. The business owner will take it in his own hands,” Collins said.

“It’s really getting out of hand is what’s happening. It’s very frustrating because it’s people’s property and it’s getting abused,” Corbin said.

A spokesman for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office said they are trying to determine if any of the catalytic converter thefts are related.

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