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Lawrence County, Mo. detectives investigating rash of stolen catalytic converters

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 5:12 PM CST
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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Lawrence County detectives say upwards of 20 catalytic converters have been stolen across the area and in neighboring counties.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office arrested a handful of people connected to these crimes, but detectives say the recent trend is still pretty active.

“With the prices they’re getting on them [catalytic converters] right now, yeah they’re making a lot of money off of it,” Lawrence County Detective Melissa Phillips said.

Phillips said many thieves use the catalytic converters to sell the metal to scrap yards.

“They’re bringing in so much value right now that I knew someone who went and cut it off just because he needed money and just to get the money out of it because they’re so valuable,” she said.

Phillips said depending on the size of the vehicle, catalytic converters can cost between $500 and $2,000. For cars, converters cost between $500 to $700, she said. Larger trucks, RVs and buses generally cost much more.

“The metal from the converters is what makes them so valuable,” Phillips said. “Platinum, that’s what they’re seeking is the platinum to scrap it. That’s what’s up right now. That’s what’s up on the price and that’s why they’re getting so much money for them.”

Phillips said all types kinds of vehicles across the area have been hit.

“Just about every vehicle that’s broke down on the interstate has had it cut off,” she said. “Several businesses that leave vehicles there over night, they’ve all been hit. Churches, you know church buses and stuff like that that are left in the parking lot.”

Phillips said she has a recommendation for anyone who breaks down on the highway.

“If you’re broke down, I would pay the tow bill,” she said.

Phillips said that bill will generally be much cheaper than the bill to replace any stolen items.

People may sell converters to scrap yards all the time, but Phillips said scrappers do pay attention to some trends.

“They know if somebody is bringing in several of them in, they flag it and contact us a lot,” she said.

With the spike in catalytic converter thefts and online holiday shopping, Philips said cameras are generally the best way to help.

”Because you’ll get a notification if there’s motion on it,” she said. “So you could be sitting at work and get a notification that oh someone just pulled into my driveway. You can call us and we can already be on our way and maybe prevent a loss to you.”

Phillips said unfortunately, if a thief wants something they will likely find a way to get it. She said locking car doors and asking others to hold onto shipped items can at least help prevent such crimes.

She also said she always recommends people file a report no matter how small of a crime it may seem to be. Phillips said it can sometimes help detectives piece together crimes connected.

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