Thieves Target Honda CR-Vs in Overnight Theft of Catalytic Converters

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Friday, December 13, 2019, 7:47 am
Mark Meyer

The East Lansing Police Department has issued an alert in response to five separate reports of stolen catalytic converters earlier this week.

Lt. Scot Sexton of the ELPD Detective Bureau said the converters — a muffler-like device that attaches to the tailpipe — were removed from the underside of vehicles in apartment complex and business parking lots sometime late Monday night into Tuesday morning in an area near the Michigan Avenue corridor on the city’s western edge. All five converters were removed from Honda CR-Vs.

Thieves often will seek catalytic converters from certain makes and models of vehicles because they contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, or rhodium that can be sold to scrap dealers for as much as $100 or more.

“In my time here, we’ve never had that many reports of stolen catalytic converters in one evening,” said Sexton, a 21-year member of the ELPD. “Not only that, but they were all specific to one make and model. Whoever was responsible, or whatever group did this, obviously was targeting that one type of car.”

According to Josh Clayton, owner of H&H Mobil in East Lansing, certain vehicles are targeted more than others because their converters are relatively easy to locate and remove.

“We’ve seen an uptick in Honda Odysseys that have been brought into our shop for repairs lately,” Clayton said. “Someone who knows what they’re looking for can remove a converter from one of these cars in about five minutes or less.”

However, Sexton said, it’s not a quiet process.

“Typically they’re removed with a Sawzall,” Sexton said, “and it does make a bit of racket. It’s definitely not a quiet theft.”

Sexton said the ELPD will be working with business and apartment managers to determine if surveillance video is available from the timeframe in which the thieves struck.

He said detectives will also be checking websites and databases that track items that have been pawned.

“My advice in the meantime is to be vigilant about parking your car in a garage whenever possible,” Sexton said. “If you’re going out shopping or parking in a public lot, try to find a well-lit area. The people who does this type of work are quick and many times go unnoticed.”

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