Why steal a catalytic converter?

GVSU car parts thefts

ALLENDALE, MICH. - GVSU's police are looking for the person responsible for stealing eight catalytic converters out of cars on the  Allendale campus last month.

                According to officials, many of the cars robbed are older models, and it's believed they are being sold for scrap metal. GVPD believes the converters are being sawed off using a reciprocating saw, and due to the location, the thieves are using car jacks to remove it.   

It's whats inside the converters that tempts people to steal them. An expert said it only takes a thief a few minutes to do, but the impact will leave a victim's pockets empty for much longer.

"It's a pain," Tolman Auto-Tech owner Philip Tolman, said. Over the last few years, the number of stolen converters he's seen has dwindled.

Tolman says back in the day, the value was higher and they were easier to get rid of.

"Now you got to have a license repair shop or to be selling it to a licensed scrap yard or have proof of why you're getting rid of it. So it is harder to get rid of on the street now." 

But that didn't stop a thief on GVSU's campus last month, leaving Tolman's repair shop left to replace the converters for a few of those GV car owners. A service costing those victims between $800- $1800. 

But what's the intrigue with these popular parts?

"It has precious metal in it. They'll try to bring them into a scrap yard and sell them so they can harvest that precious metal in there." 

It's a crime that Tolman estimated gets the thief anywhere between $50-100 per converter. On a truck or a SUV and with a good saw the repair shop owner believes it can be done quicker than you think. 

"You can probably get it out in probably 5-10 minutes." 

Just a few minutes of work has car owners owing hundreds of dollars, not to mention a major headache. 

"Yes it is a nightmare," Tolman added.

Tolman does not recommend you drive with a missing converter. Those fumes that aren't getting converted could be making their way into your car and could be dangerous. 

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