Drivers be on alert: catalytic converters are being stolen all over the state. We spoke to business owners and law enforcement to get more details on this issue.
You may be wondering, what’s a catalytic converter?
“There’s platinum, rhodium, some precious rare earth metals that are in there that ounce for ounce are worth as much as gold,” said Brent Braaten, store manager of Bismarck’s NW Tire.
To put it simply, it’s a device in your car that helps to control exhaust emissions. The Bismarck Police Department tells us over the past six months, they’ve seen an uptick in thefts.
“It’s kind of a theft where you can get under the car. Nobody sees you. Usually, it’s a dark area. A really dark area. I know they’ve been hitting a lot of vehicles that area at repair centers or repair shops. Out in the field or a parking lot. That have been there a while. So, there’s not much traffic in those industrial areas,” said Lt. Gary Malo, with the Bismarck Police Department.
Places like this. Northwest Tire is doing trying to combat the issue, etching VIN numbers into catalytic converters.
“It’s maybe not foolproof, but it’s likened to a serial number on a gun. Someone could file it off if they stole it, but it certainly would be a red flag for somebody if they were to try and sell it,” said Braaten.
The store manager of Northwest Tire says they were first asked by the Minot Police Department to help, but have since expanded their efforts statewide.
“Anything we can do just to be good in the community,” said Braaten.
Malo says it’s not always easy catching the thieves.
“A lot of time it’s night, it’s dark. Sometimes surveillance cameras quite a ways away so we can’t really make out facial features, but up might see a vehicle. Sometimes you can identify it that way,” said Malo.
To prevent this from happening to you, the BPD tells us there are steps you can take.
“Try to park your car in a lighted area. Obviously, it’s better to park in your driveway than on the street. If you’re in a parking lot, try to park it where the street lamp is,” said Malo.
Malo also says if you can, it might even be a good idea to invest in home security cameras.
The Bismarck Police Department says they have been working with local recycling centers and scrap yards to monitor suspicious activity.
If you are a victim of this crime, make sure you contact the PD as soon as you can.