Now car parts aren't safe from thieves - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Now car parts aren't safe from thieves

May 22, 2008

Dougherty County - Copper and metal thefts continue to plague Dougherty County, as the price of salvage metal rises. Now a new target is starting to be stolen by metal thieves. Catalytic converters off vans and trucks. 

Those metal thieves have hurt disabled veterans in the community.

American Legion Post 30 veterans knew when they cranked their transport vans, someone had tampered with them Sunday night.

"It was loud as a Sherman tank. I crawled up underneath it, and the catalytic converter was gone," said Post Service Officer Nick Nicholson.

This is a catalytic converter, part of your vehicles exhaust system.

"It filters the impurities out of your exhaust that hurts the environment," said County Line Muffler Shop owner Jack Thomas.

And those convertors do that with a mixture of metals. "You got platinum, palladium, and rhodium in the converter," Thomas said.

And those metals are worth a lot of money to auto salvagers, and now thefts of converters are on the rise in Dougherty County. Police say vans like the American Legion's and big trucks are favorite targets for thieves, because they are easy to crawl underneath. They use a power saw to cut the pipes and are gone in seconds.

"Of course people wouldn't be stealing this stuff if somebody wasn't buying it. We're trying to make sure the recyclers are aware of this latest trend," said Dougherty County Police Captain Jimmy Sexton.

These American Legion vans that the metal thief hit are used to transport disabled veterans to hospitals and clinics.  "There is some pretty low life people," Nicholson said.

Thomas said it costs between $200 to $2,000 to replace catalytic converters, depending on the type stolen.

"It's a shame that the veterans that sacrificed so much for this country, and go over and get shot and wounded and everything. We try to help them out, and then people come in and steal," Nicholson said.

The American Legion says they will park their vans in locked garages, when they get them repaired, to protect them from metal thieves.

Police say people need to safeguard their vehicles. Park them in well lighted areas, and call police if they see suspicious people around church or business vans or trucks at odd times.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=CatalyticThefts-JW-5/22

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