Tuesday, June 22, 2021

CAT Scams

It seems the  theft of catalytic converters are one the rise.


I have a question those readers in law enforcement might be able to answer. Who are the buyers of these catalytic converters? Fences, I would call them.

There are well developed and time tested methods of dealing with fences. Pawn shops come to mind. While nothing works 100%, nailing and prosecuting fences might make buying a catalytic converter too risky.

This isn’t a new problem. Back in the car biz day, I always checked under any trade vehicle I appraised. Customers often removed them (Hello, Wyoming) where emission tested wasn’t required.


LL said...

My experience is that there are groups who buy them and render them down to extract the platinum and other valuable components. When you steal them, you pay like $10 to the thief and then can pull a couple hundred dollars worth of components. The value is in the scale of the theft

Well Seasoned Fool said...

How do we identify and go after the groups?

drjim said...

There are some legitimate people who buy converters from cars before they get sent to the boneyard. I have a Old Jap Car buddy who does it, 100% legally, and he's get harassed all the time by people and LEO's. Not so much as being accused of theft, but more like a "Well, you're in the business. You MUST know some shady characters we can lean on" type of thing. My friends who ran junkyards back in Illinois got the same treatment.

My wife's best friend back in SoCal had the converter stolen from her Prius. Started the car one morning and was greeted with quite a racket. Wound up costing them about $1500 to get things put back right as the thieves butchered most of the exhaust system to get it off. Sometimes you're lucky and they use a pipe cutter to slice it off. Nice clean cuts that can be repaired less expensively.

Other times, not so much

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Like most things, there are seldom easy answers. It seems to me going after the buyers is easier than the thieves. Were I in the business of buying scrap, a photo I.D. and an address would be required from the seller.

drjim said...

That's required for things like copper, brass, wire, and catalytic converters in SoCal, and probably the rest of the state. Too may people steal things like that and sell them for scrap.

Old NFO said...

No good answers... Lot of them go to chop shops who's side business is metal recovery.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Most of the dealers are honest because they are smart enough to know it is in their best long term interest. Criminals don't care.

I want LEOs to go after chop shops like they do dope dealers. Often the vehicle thieved and stripped is some family's lifeline. The harm exceeds drugs, IMO.

drjim said...

The chop shops I knew of were all run by "The Family", aka The Chicago Outfit. They may say there's no honor amongst thieves, but they never stole cars from "poor people", only high-end cars like Cadillacs, Mercedes-Benz, etc. from people that could afford them.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Rare. Most gangs, or more likely individuals, steal anything they can. Dealt with it foe years in the car biz.

drjim said...

There was *some* gang activity in stealing vehicles. The Outlaws MC and the Chosen Few MC were big on it, mostly motorcycles, but some cars.

And there were occasions of "punks" stealing cars, usually muscle cars, and the carcass would be found stripped some days later. They usually left the windshield and rear window intact because they were hard to quickly remove.

The pro-level chop shops were run quite differently. Cars went in one door, and most unserialized parts went out the other door. Anything with a VIN on it, including the so-called "hidden" VIN markings, was crushed/shredded and then sold to steel recyclers. Engines and transmissions weren't usually keyed to a specific VIN back then, so they could be easily sold.

There were also some "Steal-To-Order" people, which is what most likely happened to my '67 Corvette. What happened to those cars is anybody's guess.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

In the car biz, we had a constant problem. Tires, mainly or what parts could go over a fence or gate easily. Sometime ask me about a Mitsubishi I had stolen under a motorcycle cop's nose.

drjim said...

Oh, yeah. We chased some, and caught a few, "punk kids" stealing hubcaps and other easily stolen items from the used car section of the Pontiac dealership.

The new cars were stored behind chain link fencing, with razor wire on top, and a couple of "junkyard dogs" that were allowed to patrol the secured lot at night.