SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Many may not know what a catalytic converter does on your vehicle, but apparently, thieves know what it’s made of, and it’s why they’re stealing them.
The Savannah Police Department reports five thefts of the auto part this year. Last year in Chatham County, there were about 30 thefts.
The devices are installed on vehicles to help control air pollution.
“These catalytic converters contain an element that’s called Palladium, which is rather expensive, and a lot of places will pay good money for it,” said Savannah Police Sgt. Sharif Lockett. “Thieves sell them on the black market or sell them to junkyards or whoever will buy them.”
The catalytic converter is located between the engine and the exhaust system, usually underneath a vehicle.
“This is a very expensive problem to fix,” said Lockett. “In order to remove one of these, people basically go underneath a vehicle with a saw and they’ll remove it, and it does a lot of damage.”
Police say thieves often target pickups or vans because they’re taller and easier to get underneath to steal the part.
“Some of the places that are more susceptible would be church parking lots because the people may park the church vans outside and leave them overnight,” said Lockett. “So they’ll go to the vans and cut them out. It’s a lot easier I guess to do that than to go to somebody’s house where you never know who’s inside or who’s awake and who’s watching.”
Police say to park a car, pickup or van in a garage if possible. If not, try to pick a well lit area.
Police say there are devices you can purchase to install over the converter to prevent a thief from getting to it. News 3 found a list of devices online, but many recommendations say a device should be professionally installed.
Sgt. Lockett says people need to be aware the thefts are happening, and “that’s why, if you hear a suspicious noise, especially early in the morning, we encourage you to call us so that we could come out and investigate.”