Officials at a Bell County car dealership found catalytic converters stolen from one dozen vehicles last week and police are saying they're seeing crimes like this more and more.
It seemed like a normal Monday morning.
Steve Bailey, General Manager of Lee Motors in Bell County says, “I come in Monday morning and just you know went out to start of the cars like we routinely do, to move them around, rearrange the lot. Started up one and vroom, real loud noise and we knew immediately what it is.”
The catalytic converter was stolen. Employees checked the entire lot and found 12 cars with stolen converters.
Bailey says this part can cost anywhere from 500 to over a thousand dollars. When thieves take them to a scrap metal yard, they're getting 150 at best.
Bruce Bennett, Sheriff of Bell County says, “The price of those things is very very high. The precious metal they're made from is very in demand.”
Police say the thief or thieves used an electric saw, costing Lee Motors about 15,000 dollars in damages.
Bailey says, “Hopefully they don't do any other damage when they're up underneath there. They may cut a brake line, they may cut something else. You hope that they don't, but you have to check everything. You have to completely go through the whole vehicle once it's been vandalized because you don't know.”
Now the dealership has an armed guard. Bailey says, “You know it's a sad day in time with the economy the way that it's come down too and I really think it's going to get worse before it gets better, people better lock their doors. You know our little county, our mom and pops sleep with the door unlocked but you can't do that anymore.”
So far police have not made any arrests.
Police say it's important that scrap metal companies require photo ID from sellers to help track down thieves.