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What? Catalytic Converters Are Being Stolen From Parked Cars In Burlington

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Police say four catalytic converters, like the one shown here at a maintenance shop, have been stolen from parked cars in Burlington in the past week.

A few Burlington car owners have returned to their vehicles in the past week only to find that a substantial chunk of their exhaust system is missing.According to Burlington Police Lieutenant Michael Warren, there have been four reports in the past week of stolen catalytic converters. Warren says some of the thefts have even taken place in busy parking lots during the day. Police haven’t made any arrests in relation to the crimes.

“I find it remarkable that somebody has the guts to do that during the daytime in a busy parking lot, and it tends to show how desperate people are,” Warren said.

Removing a catalytic converter from a vehicle is no small effort. Catalytic converters are designed to reduce pollution from vehicles, and they’re generally located underneath vehicles along the exhaust pipe.

“In a couple of the instances that we’re investigating in Burlington, they used some sort of a saw, I don’t know if it’s a battery-power Sawzall, or if it’s just a hack saw,” Warren said. “My guess would be it would have to be some sort of a battery-operated tool to get through the thickness of the exhaust pipe in a relatively short amount of time.”

In short, someone is crawling underneath parked cars with a saw and cutting off a part, then making off with it.

In short, someone is crawling underneath parked cars with a saw and cutting off a part, then making off with it.

Warren said the desperation of the crime makes him think that whoever is stealing the parts is trying to make money to support a drug addiction.

Because the converters are located on the underside of the car, locking car doors doesn’t help prevent this kind of theft (though police do recommend keeping car doors locked).

“The closer you can park to a building or to other people, you’re more likely to be protected from that sort of thing,” he said.

Warren also pointed out that even with the recent surge of four cases, the likelihood of a given vehicle’s catalytic converter being stolen remains very low.

“The odds of it happening to someone are relatively slim, but the fact that it’s happening is concerning — that someone’s willing to go out and damage somebody’s property for such a short payback on the item that they’re taking," he says.

Warren said one of the thefts, a catalytic converter stolen from a Honda, led to more than $1,200 in damage to the vehicle.

Police say Toyota and Honda vehicles made in the past few years seem to have been targeted by the thefts.

A Vermont law that took effect in 2012 was designed to prevent scrap metal thefts by requiring scrap yards to collect identification and, if possible, proof of ownership of the scrapped items.

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