New rash of catalytic converter thefts reported around Salt Lake, Utah counties

Oct 20, 2022, 10:58 AM | Updated: 11:37 am

Police are seeing a sudden rise once again in catalytic converter thefts, with videos showing how the thieves take only seconds to put a car owner out more than $1,000.

Residents in a condo complex in Saratoga Springs became the latest victims.

On Monday, Karrie Smith and her husband couldn’t tell something was off about their Toyota SUV, until they heard the engine.

“My husband started it up and it was super loud, and he was like, ‘Huh,'” she recalled. “So he ended up climbing underneath the truck to find out what had happened, and it was gone. The catalytic converter was gone.”

James Lewis, who lives near Smith, also had a noisy surprise upon starting up his normally quiet hybrid Monday morning.

“It sounded like a mustang right when I turned it on,” he said, describing the sound. “And then, I was concerned, looked around, and I’m like, ‘Oh look, the catalytic converter’s been stolen off of this vehicle.'”

Luckily, his neighbors caught the catalytic converter theft culprits on camera. A vehicle that looks like a light-colored mid-2000s Chevy Suburban backs into an empty parking spot next to Lewis’ car. Someone hops out the back passenger door and uses a grinder to quickly cut out the car part. Within 30 seconds, the person jumps in the Suburban and the SUV takes off.

“For someone to come out and steal something off of your vehicle where it requires them literally chopping it off — I didn’t realize I was living in real life Grand Theft Auto,” he said.

KSL Investigators Goes Undercover To Check Compliance As Catalytic Converter Thefts Skyrocket

Lewis said when he called to report the theft to police, they told him that Lewis was the third or fourth person in the area to make a report that day.

While this happened in Saratoga Springs, Unified Police in Millcreek explained seeing the same trend.

“The last month and a half, we have had, I would say a rash, to the point of 15 to 20,” Sgt. Mike Mays said of how many reports they’ve taken.

Video from one case is eerily similar to the video from Lewis’ incident. A light-colored, older Chevy Suburban pulls up to a driveway, partially blocking it. A man gets out from the back passenger side, slides underneath an SUV parked in the driveway, and in a matter of seconds, scores the precious metal piece.

“They can take them to a recyclery or fence it through other means, and they can get upwards 200, 300 bucks, several hundred dollars,” Mays said.

While 20 to 40 seconds of work can bring a big pay day for the thieves, for Lewis and Smith, it’s a costly inconvenience.

“Now I’m without a vehicle and it’s putting me out,” Lewis said.

Smith said her insurance won’t cover the cost of replacing the catalytic converter.

“Oh my gosh, the cost to replace it. It’s expensive; it’s really expensive,” she said. “We haven’t priced ours yet, but we’ve been told to expect about $1,200.”

Putting the brakes on catalytic converter theft: Matt Gephardt tests some deterrents

On Thursday, UPD plans to team up with Jiffy Lube to give out tips on how to protect your vehicle and prevent catalytic converter thefts.

Mays said to stay vigilant and watch for vehicles slowly driving through neighborhoods or parking in odd places, like right next to driveways. If you see someone stealing catalytic converters, he stressed the importance of not intervening, but calling police immediately and gathering information like a vehicle make, model, and license plate and suspect description.

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New rash of catalytic converter thefts reported around Salt Lake, Utah counties