2 catalytic converters stolen 6 months apart: One local business is hit by a national trending crime

Local News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — As catalytic converter thefts continue to be a trending crime nationally, one Wabash Valley business has had their converter stolen twice in six months.

AAA Vacuum says it happened at around four in the morning Sunday at their business, located on Poplar Street.

Owners are now left with yet another one thousand dollar repair.

“It’s extremely frustrating. It almost makes you feel like you’re a target. The expense associated with astronomical.” Jessica Keep, Administrative Assistant with AAA Vacuum, said.

Now, one of the company’s most crucial assets is out of commission, again.

“We’ve had to reschedule some appointments, but we are making due with what we have. That vehicle is a big part of our business operations. Not only do we have to spend money to get it fixed, we’re losing money on potential clients with it being out of service.” Keep added.

On top of new expenses to replace the converter, AAA Vacuum is still recovering from a fire that damaged their businesses in December.

“The fire made me sad, this makes me angry because this was something someone intentionally did.” She said.

According to the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department, in 2021, nearly 225 thefts have been reported.

Around 40 of those have been related to catalytic converters.

Derek Fell, the Sheriff’s Department’s Chief of Operations, says multiple agencies are working together to prevent more thefts from happening.

“We have a good working relationship with other counties. I think that’s a big benefit when we are working these types of crimes. Unfortunately, crimes don’t have boundaries. Criminals don’t have boundaries. We’re all seeing this and we’re all working together,” Fell said.

Fell adds to sell a converter, a vehicle title or sworn affidavit is needed.

“We hope all of our business are following the laws and guidelines. Does that always happen? No, but we hope people are. This is a crime that goes beyond Vigo County, it’s everywhere.” Fell added.

In some instances, stolen catalytic converters are bought at scrapyards. However, Fell adds transactions amongst individuals also happen.

Co-owner of Mike’s Auto Wrecking and Towing, Debbie May, says the office gets nearly one dozen calls a day asking if they purchase converters.

She adds the facility serves as a place to recycle certain car parts, but doesn’t buy individual catalytic converters.

“We stay up with the rules and follow the guidelines on that stuff. We don’t want someone to steal it off your can and bring it to us and it’s going to cost your $1000 or $1500 to replace. We know it’s not cheap to replace,” May stated.

To prevent a potential catalytic converter theft, authorities are asking citizens to park in well lit areas, in a garage, or invest in a security system.

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