An increase in catalytic converter theft statewide has caused one state legislator to sponsor legislation to help police capture thieves and deter theft.
Tooele City police report that catalytic converter theft in the city has increased since the beginning of the year. There have been 41 cases reported to the Tooele City Police so far in 2021, according to Detective Colbey Bentley.
“Of those 41 cases, we have had a total of 66 converters stolen overall,” Bentley said.
Several times throughout each year, the department sees an increase of catalytic converters being stolen for two to three weeks at a time but this year has been exceptionally bad, Bentley said.
“People cut them off of the cars and then they take them to a scrapper to get money,” Bentley said. “It’s a crime of opportunity.”
Stealing catalytic converters is a risky crime, but because thieves can get up to $800 for the converters from a scrapper, they take the risk.
“They have to cut them off with a saw,” Bentley said. “It can be pretty noisy.”
To replace a stolen converter, car owners may have to pay up to $2,000.
The Tooele City Police Department has made arrests related to this crime, but the cycle repeats itself.
“Unfortunately, it’s not just one person committing this crime,” said Bentley. “We made an arrest on a guy who stole 15 converters, but the people we arrest eventually get out of jail and they do it again. This is an ongoing thing.”
Property crime detectives are actively working on catching thieves.
“Whenever this starts to happen, the detectives work with scrappers in the Tooele and Salt Lake Valley and try to get information from them to get information, ” Bentley said.
Vehicle owners can help prevent catalytic converter theft, according to Bentley.
“Camera systems are always great to have,” he said. “If people are able to park a vehicle with a catalytic converter on it in a secure area, that’s always pretty helpful. Floodlights are also helpful to deter any issues.”