Thieves targeting auto emission systems

Jed Nakamura
Jed Nakamura
Robert Guieb
Robert Guieb

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Auto exhaust experts say you can't miss the noise when you start your engine.

The roar sounds like a tractor on steroids and it could mean you've been ripped off by a thief who stole your catalytic converter.

It happened to Jed Nakamura of Alii Flooring.

"Someone had gone underneath during the weekend and cut out the catalytic converter from the truck," he said.

A catalytic converter siphons toxins from exhaust emissions.

Last month Robert Guieb's shop, Exhaust Systems of Hawaii, replaced over eighty stolen catalytic converters.

He said thieves used power saws to cut them out.

"You can get away within a minute's time. That's pretty quick," he said.

Trucks and SUV's are frequent targets because the chassis is high off the ground.

It's reported that on the mainland thieves sell the devices to scrap yards for a couple hundred bucks apiece.

But the real money is on the black market.

A catalytic converter contains a metal more precious than gold.

"The number one precious metal would be platinum," Guieb said. "That's the highest content in the catalytic converter material itself."

Platinum is worth about $1,500 an ounce.

One catalytic converter holds only trace amounts so thieves go for volume.

The weekend Alii Flooring's truck got hit, several other vehicles on the street had their catalytic converters stolen.

"Short of parking it in the warehouse, there's nothing else we can really do," Nakamura said.

Guieb said until someone invents an anti-theft device a catalytic converter will continue to be an easy target.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved