MOUNT VERNON — Over the weekend, four vehicles were stripped of their catalytic converters, Mount Vernon Police Capt. George Hartz said this morning. Three thefts occurred on Beech Street and another on Yauger Road.
Catalytic convertors are required emission control devices that convert toxic byproducts of internal combustion engines into less toxic substances. They are tempting targets for thieves, Hartz said, because they contain valuable precious metals — palladium, platinum and/or rhodium.
The first indication of a catalytic converter theft often is an exhaust pipe hanging down and certainly the noise produced when the car is started is another indicator.
Hartz there are no specific suspects at this time, although it was “somebody who needed fast cash.”
Hartz said there really isn’t much anyone can do to prevent such a theft, other than to keep an eye on one’s vehicle if it cannot be kept in a garage.
Jeff Grandstaff, manager of Ross Bros. Salvage, said he has purchased no “recycled” converters as of Monday morning, and the company does ask about the origin of the part.
“When someone brings in a catalytic converter,” he said, “we question where they got it. Normally if a person has just one, it’s all right. If someone comes in with three or four or five, we will ask if they are a car dealer or auto mechanic. Usually the guy will show you an ID and explain where they got them.”
Although the devices do not typically have identification numbers, Grandstaff said the make, model and year of the vehicle from which they came can be determined by shape and size. Grandstaff said Ross Bros. is member of the scraptheftalert.com system, which e-mails notification of metal thefts such as catalytic converters and the lists are checked on a regular basis.