Catalytic converters stolen from medical transport vehicles

Posted at: 03/14/2013 11:51 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Last night we told you about catalytic converters being stolen from fleet vehicles of two local businesses, and an auto shop told us its seeing more cars without them.

They are between the engine and the exhaust pipe, and they contain platinum. Thieves Steal them, and sell them at scrap yards.

News10NBC spoke with Medical Motor Services, who says they are victims of catalytic converter thieves.

Catalytic converters are most commonly stolen from SUV's and trucks. Vehicles that sit high off the ground. The thief can easily slide underneath and using something as simple a wrench or a saw, can have the part off in two to five minutes.

“When they started the buses there was a kaboom sound, loud noise and they were not operable.”

That's what Bill McDonald says his drivers encountered last Monday morning, as they started their buses at Medical Motor Service on Culver Road. 11 vehicles in all, The catalytic converters gone. They had been cut out.

“The impact was to make people late that morning, but also the fact that many of the vehicles that were affected were self insured and the cost is quite substantial,” said McDonald.

And McDonald says the deductible is high. He estimates it will cost the organization up to $15,000 to repair the buses.  

The theft happened sometime over the weekend. McDonald says someone climbed through a hole in the fence and in no time, removed the catalytic converters and left. It's a new crime trend police are seeing. McDonald says businesses like his are basically sitting ducks.

“It's very hard to prevent pros and this is what the police is telling us ...that these are professional people. They come in quickly, they can cut through fences. Video surveillance is part of the best defense,” said McDonald

Not even surveillance cameras helped the Unifirst Corportation stop thieves from hitting three of it's vehicles. Jim Zetes, of  Unifirst  tells News10NBC, workers watched the video, and it didn't capture the license plate on the vehicle used by the suspects.

“It was about 2 o’clock in the morning, they took all the catalytic converters from against a building next door and they came back about four hours later once they were all cool,” said Zetes.

Tonight we learned their is an organized task force of State Police, Rochester Police and the State Department of Motor Vehicles looking into auto thefts and crimes like this. We didn't get a chance to talk with them tonight.