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Catalytic converter theft on the rise in Tucson

catalytic converter.jpeg
Posted at 4:37 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-14 23:02:20-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It was not a great start to the day when Joshua Hernandez discovered his car propped up with rocks.

“The mechanic came over here and took one look under the car and said yup they stole your catalytic converter,” he said.

Now, the college student has to choose between buying a new car or investing more money into his '98 Honda Accord.

“The catalytic converter is probably worth more than the car so that's the thing,” he said.

The Tucson Police Department says 102 catalytic converters were reported stolen citywide from January to mid-June, and in just the last two months that number has nearly doubled with 98 reported stolen.

"We’ve had a dozen or so come in with them completely cut off,” said BRAKEmax Manager Bruce Hunker.

Hunker says the catalytic converter is connected to your exhaust and helps cut back on emissions. Thieves are cutting them out for the metal. According to state law, a scrap metal dealer purchasing catalytic converters could face a Class 1 misdemeanor. But clearly the crooks are finding a market somewhere.

"There is a market for the precious metal," said Hunker.

The street value is not nearly worth what you will have to pay to get it repaired.

"$300 to $1200 depending on the vehicle and what they did to it to get it off,” said Hunker.

TPD says if you are worried about your car try to park in a well-lit and well-traveled area. You can also have your VIN number etched into the part and have a welding job done to make it harder to steal.

“People are desperate, and the economy is going to hell,” Hernandez said. "It comes off the back of working people and people just trying to live.”