Jan 15, 2011 8:10 PM by Matt Stafford

Police say thieves are targeting a specific part of your car

Colorado Springs Police say they've caught on to a crime trend that's been going on since September. Thieves are stealing the catalytic converter off of cars; trying to take the metals that the part is made of and sell them.

The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system on your car. It cleans the emissions as they are released from the vehicle.

Shanda Bonestroo, assistant manager at Aspen Auto Clinic, says thieves have broken into vehicles on their lot, stealing their catalytic converters. She says it's picking up.

"It's been more frequent," says Bonestroo "It's maddening for us to go out there and pull a vehicle in and then, all of the sudden, see something missing off a vehicle that was there just a day before." She says they have to pay to fix it, so they're beefing up security to keep it from happening again.

The thieves could make up to $200 from the metals inside the converter, but it could cost the victim as much as $3,000 to fix their car.

Aspen Auto Clinic isn't the only victim. It's a trend that Springs Police are watching.

"We noticed a pattern recently that dates back to September of last year," says Sgt. Steve Noblitt with the Colorado Springs Police Department. They've seen about a dozen vehicles that the converters have been stolen from. Sgt. Noblitt says its happening all over town; mostly on taller vehicles with more room for the thief to get to the part.

At Muffler Masters in the Colorado Springs, they say they issue is even more wide spread. They fixed three cars in one day; all with their converters stolen. They say it's all vehicles, not just the tall ones. They're hearing about it happening a lot around North Nevada Ave.

Parking inside is probably the best way to prevent a theft, but police say if that's not an option that you should park in areas that are well lit. Also they ask that you keep an eye out for suspicious behavior in your neighborhood.

"It's just another way that a criminal is making money," says Sgt. Noblitt.

If the criminals are caught; along with likely theft charges, they could face federal penalties as well -- a possible $2,500 fine for tampering with a catalytic converter.

Springs Police ask you to call if you have any information on this crime trend. Their number is 444-7000.


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