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Catalytic converter thefts on the rise in Omaha metro

Posted at 8:37 AM, Feb 21, 2022

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — It’s a crime that has taken off across the country and here in the metro. Catalytic converter theft.

The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office says it had around 130 cases in 2021, and already 25 in the county this year.

The catalytic converter is located underneath your vehicle and is part of the exhaust system. It keeps the emissions environmentally friendly and helps muffle the noise of your vehicle.

To replace it, it will cost you around $1,500 to $3,000.

The motive for these thefts is the return for those committing the crime, as they have been able to sell them to scrappers for around $200 apiece.

With the proper equipment, the catalytic converter can be removed in 30 seconds, making it easy for criminals to remove several in just a couple of minutes.

Sarpy County Sheriff Jeffrey Davis says these scrappers are to blame just as much as the ones committing the crimes.

“If you watch television and you see that advertisement from scrappers, and it shows a pile of catalytic converters. How many people are actually at home saying, ‘Oh yeah, I got one sitting in the garage.’ That’s not what it’s doing,” Davis said. “It’s the people who commit thefts for a living, it entices them to go out and take those catalytic converters. Personally, shame on them because they know what they’re doing.”

Sheriff Davis says that they are going to talk to state senators to see what can be done legislatively. Like what other parts of the country have done.

“Either by ordinance or by state statute they can do things like only commercial retailers can sell converters to scrap, or if you come in and you have a converter you can only sell one and they need to pay you by check, and they have to send the check to you,” Davis said. “Those things have helped in some cases to stymie the need to go out and take four or five a night, and that’s what’s happening.”

A few tips to avoid a catalytic converter theft from happening to you are to park your vehicle in your garage when possible and in a lighted area when not.

Consider getting a catalytic converter anti-theft kit and mark your catalytic converter with a UV pen so it can be traced back to you if found.

He says there are times where they have discovered multiple catalytic converters inside of a vehicle from a single search warrant, but without any identification of where they came from or without catching the theft in the act, they are unable to legally prove they were stolen.

This is why they stress marking your converter, and immediately calling law enforcement if you hear or see anything suspicious.