Las Vegas man deals with catalytic converter theft in the midst of financial heartache

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 8:03 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The ongoing rash of catalytic converter thefts in the valley has not only caused a lot of financial pain for many who can’t afford repairs but also emotional pain.

“Very frustrating. I’ve been stressed out. I’ve sat at home and cried and there’s no help for me,” said Raymond Martin.

Someone swiped a catalytic converter on Martin’s van at his apartment complex in November. He is still dealing with the fallout a couple of months later. Martin first had to deal with insurance.

“That drug on for over 30 days. I went through four different case managers before I finally got a settlement. I had a rental car for 30 days. It wasn’t long enough,” said Martin.

He says the insurance company totaled his car because of the cost of repairs. He then got insurance money to buy another van but now it is having mechanical issues.

“The transmission started slipping on me,” said Martin.

He says the van will not pass emissions because of a problem with the oxygen sensor. He says repairs will be around $4000. Martin says he paid $2500 for the van.

Precious metals inside a converter clean your car’s exhaust. Thieves steal converters because some of those metals can be worth more than gold. An experienced thief can steal one in a minute or less.

Martin says he can’t afford to make repairs to his car and is worried he won’t be able to make his doctors’ appointments or go to the grocery store if the van breaks down.

“It’s not fair to me. I’m a nice person. I didn’t do anything to anyone, and they steal my catalytic converter and I’m suffering because of it,” said Martin.

New figures from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department show a 38 percent increase in reported catalytic converter thefts from 2021 to 2022. There were 2625 reported thefts in all of 2022 and 1894 in 2021. Metro figures show there were just five reported thefts in 2018. And there was a big spike in thefts from 2020 to 2021, which is attributed to people looking to make a quick buck during the Covid pandemic. Metro has previously told FOX5 actual thefts could be ten times higher than reported thefts.

People can protect their converters by having a metal plate or cage installed over them. Several businesses in the valley perform the service and say they are very difficult for a thief to remove. Businesses say a thief may not even try to steal a converter with a metal plate or cage installed.

Metro police advise people to VIN mark their converters to help tie a possible suspect to a theft of a converter. And some say having a VIN-etched converter may indicate to a metal recycler that a converter is stolen. The department also advises victims to report all thefts, even if they don’t go through insurance, to help identify where trends might be happening.

In part, Martin has set up a Gofundme, to help pay for repairs to his van.