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Jefferson County sheriff battling catalytic converter thieves

August 15, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- Like other parts of the country, thieves who steal valuable catalytic converters from cars have struck the commuter train parking lot in Duffields, W.Va., and Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober told county officials Thursday he is working to combat the problem.

The pollution-reducing converters contain platinum and palladium, and have become highly valuable as metal prices climb, officials said.

Thieves typically use battery-operated saws to cut the converters from beneath cars, and can fetch up to $300 for the devices, Boober said.

Car owners know they've been victimized when they turn on their car and hear a loud exhaust, he said, adding that repair bills are high.

Since the end of July, three or four converters were stolen in one day at the commuter parking lot along Flowing Springs Road north of Charles Town, W.Va., and another converter was stolen on another day, Boober said.


Boober told the Jefferson County Commission Thursday that in an attempt to foil converter thieves, the West Virginia State Rail Authority is going to pay for several surveillance cameras to be installed in the parking lot.

The cameras will record all activity in the parking lot, which police can review in the instance of thefts, Boober said. The sheriff's department will be able to view the parking lot at anytime with the cameras.

Deputies will be able to view the lot from a remote location, possibly on a computer, Boober said.

Boober said he did not know when the cameras will be in place.

Dozens of cars are parked in the lot during the day while commuters are at work, and Boober said it is hard to deter thefts there because the lot is in remote area.

The lot has had periodic problems over the years with people breaking into cars and vandalizing them, Boober said.

How to prevent catalytic converter thefts

o Protective coverings or sleeves are available for catalytic converters, although they can be pricey.

o If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can have the bolts welded shut. The approach might only deter the thief that works with a wrench, but it might be enough of a deterrent to protect against other theft attempts.

o Etching your converter with a serial number can help police track your converter if it is stolen.

o Trucks and SUVs are easy targets because they are easier to get under.

o Park in conspicuous areas or in a garage when possible.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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