Thieves go after catalytic converters along southern coast

By Darcie Moore, Times Record
Posted Sept. 29, 2011, at 5:12 a.m.

TOPSHAM, Maine — Metal thieves continue to steal catalytic converters in the southern coast region, most likely to sell to scrap metal dealers, police said.

Topsham Police Lt. Christopher Lewis said Tuesday that on Sept. 20 at 8:02 p.m., the owner of a Jeep Cherokee reported that thieves removed the catalytic converter from the vehicle, which had been parked in the Hannaford Supermarket lot for about four hours. Lewis estimated the value of the stolen catalytic converter at $200.

Catalytic converter thefts occurred the same day at Hannaford in Brunswick and in Damariscotta, according to Lewis.

On Friday morning, Gearheads Garage at 15 Main St., Topsham, reported a catalytic converter was taken the night before from a 1989 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

Lewis said police had no suspects as of Tuesday for the Topsham catalytic converter heists. Police believe thieves have stepped up monitoring for opportunities to steal catalytic converters, which he characterized as a crime of opportunity mixed with a crime of desperation. Many thieves comfortable working in an area tend to stay in that area, Lewis said, though he can’t say if this rash of catalytic converter thefts is the result of a specific ring of thefts or group of thieves focused on specifically catalytic converters.

A catalytic converter is an anti-pollution device that contains precious metals like platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold. They cannot be installed on another vehicle, but the scrapped metals can be sold to recyclers for $20 to $200, according to edmunds.com.

Lewis said the person or persons responsible for the recent thefts in Topsham used a chain pipe cutter — most likely because it does not make a lot of noise, unlike the battery-operated reciprocating saw used in previous local catalytic converter thefts.

If thieves know what they’re doing, they can crawl under a vehicle and have the catalytic converter off in seconds, Lewis said. Often these type of thefts require police to rely on security cameras or eyewitnesses to catch the culprit.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2011/09/29/news/midcoast/thieves-go-after-catalytic-converters-along-southern-coast/ printed on July 22, 2014