LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- On Wednesday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers told the Hispanic Coalition the department has seen 1,331 reports of catalytic converter thefts since Jan. 1.

“I would venture to say that this number is going to be maybe ten times as large as what it is,” said Northeast Area Command Officer Chase Arnona.

Arnona said if multiple converters are stolen in one event, there is only going to be one report taken, if there is only one owner.

Police also said some people can’t afford to repair catalytic converters and will let their cars just sit without being driven and won’t file a report. Other victims have told FOX5 they wanted to avoid going through insurance to prevent rates from going higher, and replaced converters on their own without filing a police report.

Police have told FOX5 they want people to file police reports so they can determine where catalytic converter thefts are happening and if any trends are taking place.

Officers said the Northeast Area Command has seen 177 reported catalytic converter theft cases, second only to the Spring Valley Area Command.

Their figures do not include thefts happening in Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City or Mesquite.

Police warn the public that thieves will hit anytime and anywhere, day or night, and say thefts can happen in just 20 seconds.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Park in a garage if possible, or in well-lit areas.
  • Use anti-theft devices to guard your catalytic converters, including metal plates that auto shops can place over converters.
  • They also ask the public to have vin numbers etched into converters.
  • Or, do something as simply as paint or mark the numbers 1, 2, 3 onto converters, then take a picture. That will make it much easier to tie a theft to a suspect if police come across someone who has multiple catalytic converters.

Police officers told the Hispanic Coalition converters are part of a car’s exhaust system, in which precious metals are used to clean exhaust.

“Palladium is about $2,000 an ounce right now. Platinum is about $950 an ounce and Rhodium is about $13,500 an ounce,” said Officer Kyle Londergan.

Police say converters are melted down for those metals and can add up when someone has a lot of converters.

Catalytic converter

Police showed a bill of one catalytic converter theft victim who owns a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe. It totaled $2,262 for repairs. Police said bills can run high because thieves can damage other car parts when stealing the converters. The owner told police they were going to park the car because they couldn’t afford to fix it.

“A lot of people that they target can’t actually fix their vehicles. We found an issue with that in the Northeast Area Command itself,” said Arnona.

Police said they are making arrests and recycling centers are providing information on people who sell multiple converters at scrap yards. A catalytic converter task force is set up, which includes Henderson Police, North Las Vegas Police and the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

Locations

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