Thieves are targeting cars in a new way that could leave you with a costly repair bill

Published: Nov. 13, 2019 at 10:34 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Auto repair shops are warning drivers about an expensive new crime.

Thieves have found a way to steal precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium from vehicles.

Those metals are all found in catalytic converters, which are found in the undercarriage of a vehicle. Catalytic converters are federally required to be on all gas cars to maintain emission standards.

“The guy crawls underneath, he takes something like a saw, he just cuts through them. It takes seconds,” said Phillip Fox, general manager at Capitol Auto Service.

One woman, who doesn't want to be identified out of fear she will be targeted again, said it's costing her more than $1,600 to get her Honda Element fixed.

“I turned on my vehicle and it sounded like a lawn mower was in my car. It was extremely loud,” she said.

Fox said Honda Elements are the number one target because they are higher off the ground and easier for a thief to fit under.

Honolulu police say they have noticed an uptick in these thefts and Fox said his shop alone has repaired six in six weeks.

One reason for the spike may be because the price of platinum is on the rise.

Still, Fox said the risk is far greater than the reward.

“Those two sections replaced run about $1,300. The guy who’s stealing this, is receiving $40 to $60 from a scrap metal place. Makes no sense,” Fox said.

“It’s a lot of money and they do this so quickly,” said the woman. “Our whole worry is we get it fixed and then what? It happens again and now do you stop it?”

Fox said if you don’t have a garage, make sure you have full coverage.

You can also etch your Vehicle Identification Number on the catalytic converter. That will make it harder to sell and could help police.

Some vehicles also sell brush guards that cover parts of the underbody and consider adding security cameras.

Recycling facilities are supposed to record purchases, but some do it off the books.

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