SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – As catalytic converter thefts continue to increase across the country, a local auto store is getting creative in making it harder for thieves to steal the expensive car part.
Derrick Kilgore said his surveillance camera outside his Benton Park home captured thieves cutting off his SUV’s catalytic converter early Sunday morning. He discovered the problem when he went to the grocery store Monday afternoon.
“As soon as I started it up I knew something was wrong, it looked like a race car,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore said the estimate to fix it is $ 1,800.
“You feel violated when something like this is stolen, when something is stolen,” Kilgore said.
Converters convert harmful gases like carbon monoxide into less harmful gases, making it dangerous to drive without. Thieves want them because metals can be sold for a lot of money, especially on hybrid cars like a Prius.
“All of the newer hybrid vehicles have scrap values ranging from $ 800 to $ 1,500,” said Eric Mead, director of Shawn’s Master Auto Repair.
Mead said the crime was getting worse by the day.
“In the last six months I’d say we’ve had probably 20-30 steals,” Mead said.
Experts said there are several ways to protect yourself. You can have your mechanic engrave your wine number on your catalytic converter so they can track it if it is stolen. You can also spray paint the converter in a bright color so that it sends an alarm signal to buyers and makes it more difficult to sell. Mead said these options might help, but it won’t stop thieves, which is why his auto shop is taking a new approach.
“We actually get a quarter-inch steel cable and weld it from the exhaust, loop it through the frames on some of the heals and weld it in a few different places,” Mead said. “They could take it off if they want to take it off, but it’s going to take a lot longer than a simple saw to cut it and cut it.
Missouri state lawmakers have pushed to increase penalties for catalytic converter theft. The House did not vote on a bill until the end of the legislative session last week.
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