Auto shop

Catalytic converter thieves target the Racine auto shop; a local garage has a solution

RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) — Thieves have raided a Racine garage, stealing thousands of catalytic converters and other auto parts.

Thefts of catalytic converters continue to increase across the country because the small amount of precious metals they contain are worth more than gold.

A Bay View garage found a cheap solution.

The converters are held in place with an exhaust pipe, which is easy to cut. So the garage welds rebar to the pipe to deter potential thieves.

“Trying to provide an affordable option for anyone who thinks they’re at risk,” said Elijah Corona, owner of Family Mechanic.

He found the solution after seeing how easily thieves had it.

“All new pipe, cut through,” Corona said, demonstrating in a video he posted on the company’s Facebook page.
He cut the pipe in three seconds. Then it shows that it is trying to cut rebar.

After nearly 30 seconds, the rebar is only half cut. His companies will weld rebar to an exhaust for a fraction of the cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter.

“We have all the tools to heat them and shape them, add them to the automotive exhaust system,” Corona said.

The owner of Good Wheel Automotive Services in Racine said thieves sold thousands of dollars worth of catalytic converters from his lot last week as assorted car parts.

Security video showed an SUV backing up, then up to three people grabbing parts from a storage shed and loading them into the back of the vehicle.

Anyone with information about this theft is asked to contact the Racine Police Department at 262-635-7787 or Crimestoppers at 26.93302-636-9330

Racine police are asking for help in identifying the suspects.

In this case, the thieves stole parts that Good Wheel had previously removed from the cars it had worked on.

But because demand is so high, mechanics like Corona are struggling to find replacements to fix cars whose converters have been stolen.

“Due to the high number of thefts, we are experiencing shortages of supplies to get these vehicles back in place,” Corona said.

He said replacing a stolen catalytic converter would cost an average of about $1,000.

He charges $75 plus tax to install the rebar.

Anyone with information about this theft is asked to contact the Racine Police Department at 262-635-7787 or Crime Stoppers at 262-636-9330