Catalytic converter thieves target Racine auto shop; one local garage has a solution
RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Thieves struck a Racine garage, stealing thousands in catalytic converters and other automotive parts.
Catalytic converter thefts continue to surge across the country because the small amount of precious metals they contain is worth more than gold.
A Bay View garage has come up with a cheap fix.
The converters are held in place with exhaust pipe, which is easy to cut through. So the garage welds rebar on the pipe to deter would-be thieves.
"Trying to come up with an affordable option for anybody and everybody who thinks they're at risk," said Family Mechanic Owner Elijah Corona.
He came up with the solution after seeing how easy the thieves had it.
"Brand new pipe, cuts right through," said Corona, demonstrating in a video he posted to the business' Facebook page.
He cut through the pipe in three seconds. Then he shows attempting to cut through rebar.
After nearly 30 seconds, the rebar is only half cut. His businesses will weld rebar to an exhaust for a fraction of the cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter.
"We have all the tools to heat them and shape them, add them to the automotive exhaust system," said Corona.
The owner of Good Wheel Automotive Services in Racine said thieves sold thousands of dollars in catalytic converters from his lot last week, as assorted car parts.
Security video showed an SUV backing in, and then as many as three people grabbing parts from a storage shed and loading them in the back of the vehicle.
Racine police are asking for help identifying the suspects.
In this case, the thieves stole parts Good Wheel had already removed from cars it had worked on.
But because demand is so high, mechanics like Corona are struggling to find replacements to fix cars that have had their converters stolen.
"Because of the high theft count, we're running into shortages of supplies to put these vehicles back together," said Corona.
He said replacing a stolen catalytic converter will cost on average around $1,000.
He charges $75 plus tax to install the rebar.
Anyone with information on this theft is urged to contact the Racine Police Department at 262-635-7787 or Crime Stoppers at 262-636-9330