ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene man may have been killed Tuesday trying to prevent the theft of a vehicle’s catalytic converter. A local transport professional explained why someone might steal one.
In a recent report from the Abilene Police Department (APD), an unnamed Abilene man was struck by a white 4-door sedan on Tuesday while attempting to stop a reported theft of a catalytic converter.
The report says the witness, who was shot, saw four masked men with bandanas remove a converter, in the 500 block of Chestnut Street. As the men took the converter into their sedan, the witness stood in front of the vehicle in an attempt to block the thieves, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
The victim refused ambulance treatment at the scene and declined further comment.
Jimmy Campbell of Procter Automotive told KTAB/KRBC, judging by the calls his store receives regularly, crimes of this nature are on the rise.
“It started going up probably in the middle of last year, early last year, and it only got worse,” Campbell said.
Why are local criminals focusing on this specific auto part? Campbell said they were looking for the metals inside the room.
“They’re stealing them because the metal values in the converters are going up right now,” Campbell said.
Platinum rated at $730 per ounce, palladium rated at $2,000 per ounce, and rhodium rated at $10,000 per ounce can all be found in catalytic converters. Without a serial number on the part, it can be a difficult crime to track.
“It makes it quite attractive for these guys to pursue it,” Campbell said. “Even the risk they take of getting caught, because we’re approaching criminal expenditures for these things.”
It’s a remarkably simple, if risky, process. Campbell said the criminals only had to lift the vehicle and cut the converter on either side with a hacksaw or power saw. What is done in minutes can result in considerable expense for the vehicle owner.
“$200 would be a good place to start years ago,” Campbell said with expert advice. “Today, I would say the average starts in the $400 range…$350 to $400, and goes all the way up to $1,000 a piece.”
As a transportation professional, Campbell said he even helped install a custom catalytic converter guard on a customer’s pickup truck. However, these guards are rare and expensive to find and install.
In order to discourage theft, it is recommended to park cars in well-lit and highly visible places.