Certain vehicles targeted by thefts of catalytic converters
BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – Early Monday morning, Nadia Pizarro said both catalytic converters were stolen from her Toyota Prius, which was parked on the street. She first noticed it a few hours later when she got into her car.
“It looked like a helicopter was under my car,” Pizarro said. “I felt very traumatized that someone did this in front of my house.”
Neighbors told Pizarro they saw two men in hoodies come and go in less than five minutes. Surveillance cameras show a light-colored SUV fleeing around 4:15 a.m.
Pizarro filed a police report and had his car repaired for $1,300. Unfortunately, she had to pay for everything out of pocket, as her Prius is not fully insured.
“If you have full coverage, it’s usually covered by insurance,” said Melissa LaCount, owner of 311 Auto in the city of Tonawanda. “If you don’t, and you just have a responsibility, like in Nadia’s case, it will have to come out of his pocket.”
LaCount said that over the past year, 311 Auto has seen at least one customer a week come in for a stolen catalytic converter.
“Usually it’s a Toyota Prius, or a hybrid vehicle,” LaCount explained.
Hybrid and electric vehicles have converters that contain more precious metals, making them a bigger target for thieves.
Pizarro said the mechanic who repaired his vehicle, said another woman was having her car repaired after her catalytic converter was also stolen on the West Side.
Just recently a Stockton man was charged with stealing a catalytic converter from a driveway.
RELATED: Brocton man arrested after catalytic converter was cut from car in driveway
Converters can sell for between $5 and $500, according to Metalico Buffalo vice president Zachary Zelawski. Metalico buys and sells scrap, but responsibly.
“If there’s something that fits the description of something they’re looking for, we can help you,” Zelawski said of his work with law enforcement.
In Monroe County, the sheriff’s office recently created a task force with scrap companies and other local law enforcement to help catch felons.
Recently, Zelawsi said law enforcement came to inspect catalytic converters that people had brought in for a period of time. Zelwaski said when converters are stolen, law enforcement can match the car to the angle at which the converter was cut.
There is also burning technology that can help track these valuable converters. Zelawski said Metalico is investigating this to help track stolen catalytic converters.
Pizarro said she hopes her story helps people check their vehicle insurance and monitor this criminal activity.
If you have a problem to solve, email Michael Schwartz [email protected]