Police in Prince William County, Virginia, are warning commuters to be careful of a different kind of auto theft: Thieves are not stealing entire vehicles, but going underneath and taking catalytic converters.
Officer Renee Carr, of the Prince William County police, told WTOP the thieves are concentrating on commuter parking lots on and around Interstate 95.
She said that they target catalytic converters because they “are easier to sell at a scrap yard than some of the other pieces of a car, and they’re easily removable” with a cutting tool. They fetch about $200 apiece at scrap yards.
If yours gets taken off, your car will run, but it will sound loud, with a gravelly sound — similar to losing a muffler. “Generally, people notice pretty quickly if it’s been taken off,” Carr said.
The police had recommendations for keeping your catalytic converter where it belongs:
- Be aware of your surroundings in parking lots, and park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances or the road.
- If you already have an alarm in your car, you can adjust it so that vibrations, such as those from a saw, will set it off.
You can also have your car’s VIN engraved into the catalytic converter, in case it’s stolen.
The police, Carr said, keep in contact with the scrap yards to see what people bring in.
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.