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Auto shop taking new approach to combat rising catalytic converter thefts

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    SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — As catalytic converters thefts continue rising across the country, a local auto shop is getting creative to make it more difficult for thieves to steal the expensive car part.

Derrick Kilgore said his surveillance camera outside his Benton Park home captured thieves cutting the catalytic converter from his SUV early Sunday morning. He discovered the issue when he went to go to the grocery store Monday afternoon.

“As soon as I started it, I knew something was wrong, it sounded like a race car,” said Kilgore.

Kilgore said the estimate to fix it is $1,800.

“You feel violated when something like that gets stolen, when anything gets stolen,” said Kilgore.

Converters convert harmful gasses like carbon monoxide into less harmful gasses, making it dangerous to drive without one. Thieves want them because the metals can be sold for a lot of money, especially off hybrid cars like a Prius.

“All the newer hybrid vehicles, they’re going for scrap values of anywhere from $800 to $1,500,” said Eric Mead, manager at Shawn’s Master Auto Repair.

Mead said the crime is getting worse by the day.

“In the last six months, I’d say we’ve probably done somewhere between 20 to 30 stolen ones,” said Mead.

Experts said there are a couple ways to protect yourself. You can ask your mechanic to etch your vin number onto your catalytic converter so you can track it if it’s stolen. You could also some spray paint the converter a bright color so it sends a red flag to buyers and makes it harder to sell. Mead said those options might help, but it won’t stop thieves, that’s why his auto shop is taking a new approach.

“We actually get quarter inch steel cable and weld it from the exhaust, loop it through the frames on some of the cares and weld it in several different places,” said Mead. “They could get it off if they want to get it off, but it’s gonna take a lot longer than just a saw to cut it and cut it.”

Missouri state lawmakers have been pushing to increase the penalties for catalytic converter thefts. The house did not vote on a proposed bill before the legislative session ended last week.

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