Catalytic Converters Popular Among Thieves

Christine Gamblers
Christine Gamblers

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- First it was copper. Now thieves are setting their sights set on another precious metal -- platinum. And to get it, they're prowling local parking lots. One Montgomery woman says her car was targeted recently, but she didn't find out until it was too late.

Christine Gamblers was leaving her job at a jewelry store in east Montgomery when she realized that someone had tampered with her SUV.

"I got in my car, turned on the ignition, and immediately I heard that noise like you have no muffler on your car," she explained.

A thief had crawled under Gambler's car and ripped out the catalytic converter, which contains platinum.

"When you're in the jewelry business like I am, you know platinum right now is selling for about $1,500 an ounce."

Mechanic Chuck Freeman says it's unlikely a thief would get a huge sum for trading in a catalytic converter.

"I would guess around fifty dollars," he said.

But for the car owner, the cost of replacing the stolen equipment can be astronomical.

"It can run anywhere from $350 minimum upwards to $1,200 or $1,400," Freeman said.

Gamblers says she's spending $1,300 to repair her vehicle, but she hopes by telling her story she can save other car owners the headache.

"I want people to have their eyes open so we can get on top of this," she explained. "If you see anybody getting underneath a car, you should be suspicious and call the police right away."

Montgomery police did not want to be interviewed for this story because they say catalytic converter thefts are not widespread in Montgomery. They say there's been only one incident reported.

But other cities in Alabama and nationwide have reported similar incidents.

The city of Montgomery recently passed a law that makes it more difficult for thieves to sell copper, but that ordinance does not apply to platinum.

Reporter: Mark Bullock