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Catalytic converter thefts on the rise, especially from large vehicles

Parts of vehicles associated with the exhaust system may not seem to carry much value, but catalytic converters are being stolen in this and surrounding areas due to the amount a person can get selling them for scrap.

Law enforcement officers with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and Picayune Police Department have noticed an uptick in those thefts recently.

Maj. Joe Quave with the Sheriff’s Department said that after the devices are cut from the vehicle, the suspects take them to scrap yards where they can get between $50 to $300 per catalytic converter. The devices are valuable because they contain rare metals instrumental in the process to make vehicle exhaust safer for the environment.

So far this year, 11 instances of the devices being stolen from vehicles in this county have been reported to the Sheriff’s Department, five of which occurred this month, Quave said.

The cost to replace one of those devices can range from $200 to almost $2,000, depending on the vehicle involved.

Larger vehicles such as church vans, buses and RV’s seem to be the hardest hit.

Picayune Police Assistant Chief James Bolton said several businesses and churches in the Picayune area were hit recently, totaling more than 11 thefts since September, where an employee at Paw Paws Camper City reported the theft of a catalytic converter off an RV. On Nov. 4, five more were stolen from RV’s at the same business.

Staff at Walker’s Collision Center also reported the theft of catalytic converters from five vehicles on Dec. 15. This month, several reports of the devices being stolen off church vans or business vehicles were reported, such as at Anointed Dove Ministries, East Jerusalem Baptist Church, Picayune Funeral Home and Paul’s Pastry, Bolton said.

Bolton said his department is working with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department as well as a number of other agencies in surrounding jurisdictions who are working similar thefts that occurred in those areas, such as St. Tammany Parish, Stone County, Jackson County, Waveland, Gulfport and Wiggins. 

Law enforcement officials suggest parking vehicles in secure areas when possible, particularly in a garage. If a garage is not available, it’s a good idea to park vehicles in  areas where there is plenty of light, and where surveillance footage can be captured.