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Brazen Metal Thieves In N.J. Set Their Sights On Catalytic Converters

Police: Platinum In Automotive Part Goes For Staggering $1,500 Per Ounce

LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Forget about your hub caps or sound system being stolen. Now thieves have come up with a new item they’re stealing from vehicles.

As CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported Tuesday, catalytic converters are being taken by the dozen.

Who knew the lowly catalytic converter had become such a target for thieves going right underneath your car with a saw.

“For the vandal it would be one cut here and one cut there. With a sharp blade it’s right through it,” auto shop owner Michael Bergamo said.

Bergamo said he’s seeing a bumper crop of business from drivers whose catalytic converters have been sawed right off.

“Now they’re taking engine parts off your car while you’re sleeping,” Bergamo said.

In and around Linden, thieves have been conducting raids. One rental location had 16 catalytic converters stolen one night last month. But now, police said, it’s anytime, anywhere.

We’re not talking about thieves going after some poor guy’s car left overnight. Two recent thefts of catalytic converters in one parking lot happened in broad daylight.

They are swiped for big money, according to Linden Police Capt. James Sarnicki.

“There is precious metal contained in catalytic converters platinum. They sell these converters at scrapyards. The platinum that’s contained in the converter, I understand, goes for like $1,500 an ounce,” Sarnicki said.

Commuters at the Linden Train Station, where a recent catalytic converter heist happened, were stunned to hear of the news.

“They need better security. They need some kind of more patrolling,” one person said.

“It’s horrible what people are doing to each other,” another person said.

“Usually they take the whole car then they scrap it somewhere else,” another said.

And replacing a catalytic converter can set you back anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

Most cars are required to have catalytic converters, and while you can physically operate the vehicle without one, it sounds like you’re driving without a muffler.

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