A car part containing valuable metals is currently a hot item among thieves.

Theft of the catalytic converter has been increasing locally and across the country.

“Inside the city, they’re targeting larger trucks, delivery trucks, that sort of thing,” said Police Chief Ralph Dance. “Mostly trucks that are left overnight. We’ve had a lot of church vans hit.”

The Salvation Army recently had two trucks hit overnight – a brand-new one and the organization’s older truck. The cost to replace the emission control device can run into the thousands.

“With these portable saws, they can get under your vehicle and be gone within a minute and a half,” said Dance. “With that said, I suggest everybody, especially businesses or churches, to make sure you put the vehicles inside a building or fenced area.”

Both the city and county have made some arrests for theft of the parts.

“We’ve got one on camera that was in broad daylight,” said Dance. “If you see somebody laying under a vehicle and they don’t look like they belong, call the police.”

Sheriff Ben Caldwell said it has occurred throughout the county.

“Most of them have been at businesses,” he said. “We’ve seen some at salvage yards and on church vans and delivery vehicles. The problem we have is once they are cut off a vehicle, there’s no numbers tying it back to that vehicle.”

Both the city and county have seen the crime primarily at businesses rather than residences thus far.

For those who do not have an enclosed garage or fenced area, Caldwell suggests parking in a well-lit area and within view of security cameras, if possible.

Plates can be purchased to cover the catalytic converter, providing another layer of deterrence to theft. Some also recommend etching the vehicle identification number onto the surface of the catalytic converter.

Dance encourages residents to report any tips.

“If you know somebody that is stealing them or buying them, please report it,” he said. “There’s somebody that’s buying them that can get them to somebody that can take those precious metals out. We really want to get it stopped because it’s costing folks a lot of money.”

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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