Typically when people steal things, it is usually things we all can think of, such as money, vehicles, and perhaps food. However there are some items that are stolen the majority of people in the world wouldn’t think of.
Recently in Meadow that happened. Pastor Greg Breedlove of First Baptist Church in Meadow had his personal Ford Excursion and the church van catalytic converters stolen. Breedlove stated, “Early Sunday morning thieves stole the catalytic converter off my Ford Excursion in my driveway and from the church van under the carport at church. As loud as you think it would’ve been no one saw nor heard anything.”
The question is why would anyone want to crawl under a vehicle and steel a catalytic converter. According to Chuck Nave, who owns Chuck’s Automotive in Brownfield said, “They are worth a lot of money… at least cut open they are. I believe there are three or four different precious metals that are in a catalytic converter.” Nave was not wrong about that. There are three different precious metals in a catalytic converter. So what is a catalytic converter and why does it have precious metals inside them?
A catalytic converter is a honeycomb looking device used to change or transform toxic vehicle emissions like carbon monoxide, to less harmful substances. This change is called “catalyzed”, or accelerated, chemical reactions. Catalysts are compounds that can trigger a chemical reaction without being affected the compounds themselves. Inside a catalytic converter it will maximize the surface area where reactions can take place. Late model vehicles that run on gasoline, including automobiles, trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles, and planes, have exhaust systems which employ a catalytic converter.
The catalyst component of a catalytic converter is usually platinum (Pt), along with palladium (Pd), and rhodium (Rh). Although these three platinum group metals are uncommonly rare, they do have a full range of uses in addition to catalytic converters. For example, Platinum is used in laboratory and dental equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, plus jewelry. Palladium plays a key role in fuel cell technology. Because of the large number of uses plus a limited supply, they become an attractive target for recovery and reuse from used catalytic converters.
As of Tuesday morning April 20, 2021 Palladium was trading in the commodity market at $2,776.76 an ounce and Platinum was trading at $1,202.90 an ounce. “Individually once cut open, these converters are worth a lot. I couldn’t say where they sell the metal, but that is why catalytic converters get stolen. It can take between five to seven minutes to steal one using a hydraulic cutter of some kind.” stated Nave. Of course there is an average of 3 to 7 grams of this precious metal in a converter, so there less than an ounce that can be sold.
A stolen catalytic converter can also wreak havoc on a person’s finances. According to Nave, in vehicles older than 2000 models, “a stolen converter can mess up the computer in the vehicle. A new converter and to replace one ranges from $700 to $2500, depending on the vehicles, especially diesel vehicles can be high,” Nave said. Breedlove believes there is a solution to the problem stating, “When I called the muffler shop in Lubbock they said they cant keep enough catalytic converters in stock to keep up with the thefts. This has a simple fix! Pass legislation that only allows muffler shops, repair shops, and recyclers to sell used catalytic converters. It’s crazy that people can show up with basically no questions asked and sell cats for easy cash to recyclers.”
Both Terry County Sheriff Timothy Click and Brownfield Police Chief Tony Serbantez had similar things to say on the issue of theft. Sheriff Click said, “People living in rural areas need to be very aware of their surroundings. Park in a garage, obviously, if you can. Security lights and cameras can be helpful. Just don’t make it easy for thieves.”
Chief Serbantez echoed the advice saying, “Just try to pay attention. Protect your belongings. This is just good advice. Security lights and cameras can make a big difference. Watch out for your neighbors, as well. We have to work together to make it harder for thieves to do what they do.”
There has not been an arrest made in connection with this crime.