Catalytic converter thieves targeted woman's car as she went Christmas shopping
BATON ROUGE- A woman shopping at the mall said it took 20 minutes for thieves to target her new car as she completed some last minute Christmas shopping last week.
Susan Parker said when she went to leave the mall, her car sounded like a tractor. When she looked underneath her car, she saw bits and pieces of metal missing from where thieves disconnected her catalytic converter.
Mechanics told WBRZ the piece of equipment is necessary for emissions and contains precious metals inside.
Repair shop owners say the thieves can make up to $300 on each converter. Meanwhile, it will cost vehicle owners between $500 to $2,000 to replace catalytic converters depending on the type of car they drive.
"They should go find a job, a real job" Parker said. "A lot of people are hiring."
At T&M Muffler Shop in Baton Rouge, Manager Robert Taplin can't keep up with the influx of cars he's seeing.
"This is the worst we've ever seen it," Taplin said. "Never seen anything like it before."
As we were at his shop, he was working on two vehicles that had their catalytic converters sawed off and stolen in the middle of the night.
"They just sawed it off, right in the middle, and took the converter," Taplin said.
He began noticing the converter thefts about a year ago and has seen things escalate. Nearly all of the repairs that he's done this month alone are from stolen converters.
The fast cash is available for thieves who know what they are doing and can remove the converters in a couple of minutes. Drivers only realize something is not right when they start their car.
"Usually just the noise," Taplin said. "For the car owner, usually when you start it it makes a lot of noise. You think you need a new muffler, but it's the converter."
For Susan Parker, losing money is not the only thing that has her upset after she got her car back today after spending hundreds of dollars. She's also concerned about the time and planning that went into the theft by the thieves who tried to steal her Christmas joy.
"The thought of it, just feeling violated," Taplin said.
Baton Rouge Police confirmed the influx in cases of converter thefts. They said they are following leads, and urged anyone with information to contact them at (225) 389-2000.
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