Two catalytic converter thefts from vehicles in Red Bay in the past month have police warning residents to be aware that a national problem as arrive here.
According to Red Bay Police Chief Janna Jackson and investigator Kyle Gober, two vehicles – a church van in a parking lot and a pickup at a business on Golden Road – have been hit by thieves in the last three weeks. The second theft was reported on Friday, July 2. The catalytic converters were removed likely with a saw or a grinder, and the theft can take just a few minutes, leaving vehicle owners with an expensive repair bill.
“This has been ongoing across Alabama now due to people getting so much money off scrap for catalytic converters,” Jackson said. “It’s happened over in Mississippi, too. We’ve been being warned about it for a while.”
Jackson said the investigation has not yet determined an exact time the thefts occurred, but that they are looking for video surveillance that might pinpoint it.
“These people who are stealing them don’t care if it’s broad daylight,” Jackson said. “One particular incident (not in Red Bay) was in broad daylight. It was stolen while the vehicle’s owner was inside their office. These people are moving quick, day or night.
Catalytic converters are a part of a vehicle’s emissions exhaust system and look similar to a muffler. They are typically located toward the center of a vehicle and can be found on both gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. They have become a valuable target nationwide because of the valuable metals contained in them. Thieves have been cashing in by turning the devices over to recyclers, and ultimately the platinum, rhodium and palladium inside are extracted.
Those recyclers, however, are supposed to maintain strict records when receiving converters, Gober said. Among the items a recycler is supposed to collect and maintain is the name, address and an ID card of the person submitting the items, the identification of the employee accepting the item, and a signed statement from the person submitting the item stating that he or she is the rightful owner of the material being sold for scrap.
Jackson said her department made an arrest in May of an individual in Red Bay who had been receiving catalytic converters and other items but had not been maintaining the proper paperwork. Gober said the department’s investigation had led them to that individual.
Red Bay isn’t the only city in the area where thefts have occurred. Jackson said she was aware of other agencies reporting similar incidents.
“One was stolen off a church parking lot in Red Bay, and outside Red Bay another church van was hit,” Jackson said. “One Mississippi agency made an arrest within the last few weeks. I understand someone was in custody.”
Whether the two recent thefts are the work of locals or out-of-towners, Jackson advised churches, businesses and residents to be aware of their vehicles and surroundings and report any suspicious activity to the Red Bay Police Department at at 256-356-4455 or to Gober at 256-291-7926.
“Be on the lookout” Jackson said. “If it’s a business with video make sure your cameras are pointed toward your vehicles for their protection. And if anyone sees anything suspicious contact the police department.”