CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) — A man was crushed to death while attempting to steal a catalytic converter from a local business, according to the Chatham County Police Department (CCPD).

On Tuesday, Mar. 7, officers were called to Prestige Auto Sales on Ogeechee Road around 9:15 a.m. after a deceased man was found under a vehicle in the car lot.

Matthew Eric Smith

Police say evidence at the scene indicates that the man was killed while he was illegally removing a catalytic converter from the vehicle, and the vehicle fell on top of him.

The man was identified as 32-year-old Matthew Eric Smith. Arrest records show he had been arrested numerous times in Chatham County.

According to police records – Smith has been arrested more than a dozen times. 

Chief Jeff Hadley of the Chatham County Police Department says the expensive metals found in catalytic converters make them a hot item for thieves to make fast cash. 

Hadley believes one way to stop the problem is for state lawmakers to pass a law similar to one in South Carolina that makes it hard for people to buy or sell catalytic converters.

He said, “We normally don’t publicize every death investigation that we go to. Many are natural, it could be an overdose or something like that, but because of the uniqueness of this case. We you know had wanted the public to know one really hopefully as a deterrent for unfortunately anyone had those intentions to go around stealing catalytic converters.”

CCPD says 39 catalytic converters were stolen in unincorporated Chatham County in 2022.