New target for metal thieves: Catalytic converters

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Thieves have stolen catalytic converters from the undersides of delivery trucks at two Spartanburg businesses, part of a rash of thefts of the pollution-control devices.

Owner Jay Moore said that thieves vandalized trucks at his business, Carolina Garden World on South Pine Street last week and hit several other businesses on nearby Union Street.

Investigators said that thieves want the platinum that the converters contain. The metal helps the converter remove pollutants from vehicles' exhaust.

Moore said that he wants others to know about the thefts

"I just put on our sign at the road, 'Watch for thieves on Pine,' just to make the community aware that things are going on that they need to know about," Moore told WYFF News 4's Mike McCormick.

Law enforcement officers said that the catalytic converter theft is becoming more prevalent.

Platinum is approaching $2000 per troy ounce, so even though there's less than a gram of the precious metal in a catalytic converter, it can still hold as much as $50 or $60 worth.

Moore said that he thinks trucks are a target because they're bigger and also the converters are easier to get to.

"It seems like they're hitting trucks because there's plenty of clearance under the trucks," Moore said. "I just want people to be aware of this and maybe safeguard their vehicles as much as they can."

Moore said he didn't notice the trucks had been hit until he started one and "it sounded like a race car." Moore said it cost $400 to have his trucks fixed.

Scrap dealers require a valid drivers license or other ID from someone who sells them scrap.

But law enforcement officers said that since thieves are able to strip the metal out of the converter before they try to sell it, it's difficult to trace.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff's office said that between copper thefts and thieves stealing catalytic converters, metal thefts make up about 20 percent of the county's property crimes.

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