Area sees trend of missing parts

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AIKEN --- Why get caught stealing the whole car when stealing one part is easier, more profitable and less risky?

Those looking to make a quick buck, or a couple of hundred, have discovered a treasure trove underneath vehicles -- the catalytic converter, which is stolen and sold to scrap yards or to recyclers.

The trend appears to have hit Aiken County.

From February to March, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office "had six reported cases of catalytic converters being stolen from automobiles for a total of 13 autos," Lt. Michael Frank said.

Catalytic converters change harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions before they leave the car's exhaust system.

But why would anyone take the trouble to remove this part?

Each converter contains the precious metals platinum and rhodium, which currently are more valuable than gold.

As of Monday, platinum was worth $2,026 an ounce, and rhodium was worth $8,925 an ounce. Gold was $920.60 an ounce.

Lt. Frank said a person can sell a catalytic converter at scrap yard for about $200 to $300.

Mickey Morris, the owner of Morris Tire and Auto in Aiken, said an after-market converter can cost about $250 to $300. But that price can go to as much as $1,000 if the vehicle requires a factory-fit part, he said.

Mr. Morris has recently replaced about six converters that were stolen from area vehicles.

"They'll drive up to a parking lot and steal it off while you're shopping," he said. "They'll use a battery-operated saw, and they can have it off in less than five minutes."

Unless the person is caught in the act, there is no way to trace what vehicle the converter came from.

People stealing catalytic converters usually target car lots or service garages.

Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Tony Walden said several catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles parked in an Augusta car lot during the weekend.

"We usually don't see a lot of single catalytic converters taken," he said. "Usually if they are taken, they are taken five or six at a time."

In Columbia County, sheriff's Maj. Rick Whitaker said catalytic converter thefts have not been a problem.

"We have patrols out checking car dealerships and apartments," he said.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT IS IT?


The inside the catalytic converter is a honeycomb set of passageways or small ceramic beads coated with catalysts such as platinum, rhodium and/or palladium. The catalysts induce a chemical reaction that converts pollutants such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide into less harmful emissions.

Source: About.com

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WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/08/08 - 04:34 am
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What libel is this? Crime in

What libel is this? Crime in Aiken County? Next you will want us to believe, that Meth Labs, have been found in Columbia County in the past. Yeah, right. Like next we will build a spacecraft, and fly men to the moon. What kind of B.S. is the Chronicle trying to shove down our throats?

getalife
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getalife 04/08/08 - 06:37 am
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If the salvage yard would

If the salvage yard would stop buying them and report these people to the police maybe the stealing would stop!!

Armywife
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Armywife 04/08/08 - 08:12 am
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Hypocrite, your post makes no

Hypocrite, your post makes no sense. You don't believe there is crime in Aiken County? Or you don't believe catalytic converters are being stolen right out of cars? I bet those 6 people in Aiken County who had 13 converters stolen would disagree.

GuyIncognito
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GuyIncognito 04/08/08 - 08:22 am
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The article mentions that a

The article mentions that a saw is usually used... I'd think that would be noisy. For about the same amount of time and a socket set, you can get them off a lot quieter. Not that I'm saying you should...

426Hemi
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426Hemi 04/08/08 - 08:49 am
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Someone here is a Space

Someone here is a Space Cadet. Trekkie too? You stealin' my cat. conv. to build a spacecraft?

jack
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jack 04/08/08 - 11:30 am
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HYPOCRAP, seems as usual,

HYPOCRAP, seems as usual, A/RC has the major problem, followed by Aiken County and little of none in CC. Not at all surprising. A/RC ain't exactly the garden of eden. So where's the BS (other than your response).

iletuknow
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iletuknow 04/08/08 - 03:00 pm
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Out of luck here:all the

Out of luck here:all the necks have long since removed them in favor of glass-packs.

SunDown
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SunDown 04/08/08 - 04:08 pm
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If I came out of a store and

If I came out of a store and noticed someone under my car, and heard the sounds of a saw I would (as quickly as possible) jump in my car fire it up, and run them the "F" over, hopefully killing their sorry azz dead! I usually carry a shovel in my trunk so it would be no problem scooping up the mess.

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