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Police warn of uptick in catalytic converter thefts

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 6:00 PM CST
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Two Rivers, Wis. (WBAY) - Police are warning people about a rising number of thefts, targeting catalytic converters being stolen from underneath vehicles.

The crime takes just minutes and there’s been an uptick all across Northeast Wisconsin.

It was on Valentines Day, that Lisa Matzke, of Two Rivers noticed that something about her car, was really off.

“I went out there and didn’t really look at my car and just got in, pushed the button, and it sounded like heck,” she said.

After Matzke got out, she found a jack near the front passenger side tire, and saw blades on the ground.

“It’s in a parking lot, with thirty some other cars. I mean people live on that side of the building, they could look out. It was the fourth from the front and under a light,” she added.

After calling police it was discovered that her catalytic converter was missing.

Investigators say it’s been a big problem lately, not just in Two Rivers.

“It seems like in the past year there’s been quite an uptick on it. There’s quite a few more, quite a larger volume than we’ve had in the past,” said Captain Dave Vorpahl of the Manitowoc Police Department.

In Manitowoc, about 25 have been stolen since July.

On the black market, the item can sell for between two and five hundred dollars due to precious metals found inside the device.

Carparts.com says the converters contain metals such as rhodium, palladium and platinum.

Vorpahl added,“ Generally there’s not an identification number on it so it’s hard to trace. So people need quick cash, whether it’s COVID related or they don’t have their funds to pay bills or it could be a drug habit.”

To prevent being a victim, there’s security devices you can buy online like a “catclamp,” or if you can’t park in a garage, it’s best to park near another vehicle that’s closer to the ground, limiting space.”

Matzke says, being a disabled veteran, the theft is a financial hardship.

“Now it’s like, what do I do. I can’t legally drive my car. So, I have to look for something else, and I can’t afford to. Either which way, I can’t afford to fix and I can’t afford a car. So like I said, I started a GoFundMe.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about how to protect your vehicle against thieves targeting catalytic converters and which cars are more prone to catalytic converter theft.

Manitowoc Police say anyone with information about the thefts should contact either Detective Pete McGinty at 920-686-6583, or Detective Jen Pusel at 920-686-6597. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 920-683-4466.

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