Rare Metal Makes Car Part a "Hot" Target

We've all heard of car thieves stealing stereo systems and hub caps, but catalytic converters are one of the "hottest" items on the street.

Catalytic converters help eliminate pollution from a car's exhaust and contain platinum, a highly expensive precious metal that costs twice as much as gold.

Precious metal dealer Tom Stout says the metal is rare and therefore, costly. "One troy ounce is almost 1150 dollars an ounce, so its a very small amount for a very high return". 

Brad Roberts' auto body shop has been hit hard by thieves stealing catalytic converters. He estimates in the last 8 months 25 of the units have been stolen from his shop.

"Its getting worse I guess with the precious metals in the converter they know what they're worth. Its just cheap, easy living for them just to take them and get them melted down".

Salvage yards and muffler shops here in the panhandle try to keep the parts under lock and key...but vehicles left out overnight are prime targets for thieves.

Roberts added "They're just slipping in under the trucks in the middle of the night with electric saws and hack saws and taking them in the middle of the night. We don't even know they're missing until we get here the next morning and start the car up and hear the difference in the exhaust tone". 

Roberts says it is illegal to sell the converters to an individual, but a licensed dealer can get as much as 125 dollars for one.

He has filed reports with law enforcement but says they've had no luck capturing any of the criminals so far.