Automobile dealers and repair shops in Spokane are seeing a rise in thefts of catalytic converters.
Cody Burns, an owner of Hopkins Automotive in Spokane, said converters and other equipment were stolen on Wednesday night, resulting in a nearly $5,000 loss.
“We’ve had issues with theft before, not necessarily targeting catalytic converters,” Burns said. “They’re made of precious metals. You generally can get anywhere from $200 to $300 just to have one piece recycled.”
Burn’s business was broken into by thieves, who cut a hole into a chain-linked fence surrounded by barbed wire. The thieves then cut open a metal lock, stealing catalytic converters inside a locked shed. They also damaged several cars which were on the lot for sale, which Burns estimated would cost several thousands of dollars to repair.
Randy Arrotta, an owner of several car and RV dealerships, was also the victim of multiple thefts stemming from the past several weeks.
“It’s just crazy what it costs to replace these things,” Arrotta said. He predicts replacing each catalytic converter costs anywhere from $800 to $3,000, depending on the size of the converter and vehicle it’s stolen from.
Other than the price of replacing the converters, Arrotta said there’s a cost not even money can pay for: the price of credibility for customers shown vehicles by employees, who often don’t know the catalytic converters are missing until they’re shown the vehicles.
“The other part of it is when you’re showing (a car or RV) to a customer, you don’t know (the converter is gone) until you start the car up. It sounds like a drag car because the mufflers gone, so it just sounds terrible. You lose a lot of credibility with the customer,” he said. “You’re not going out in the lot and looking under the car’s every day.”
Arrotta’s lots were stolen from earlier this week. He provided an upbeat update on Thursday.
“(Spokane police) actually caught somebody and arrested them,” Arrotta said Thursday morning.
Hours after speaking with Burns on Thursday, he also provided an update.
“Sometimes the good guys win! Still have damage to the cars and fence, but at least we got the property back,” Burns texted, indicating he was able to retrieve the stolen property from his business.
Several other car dealerships and auto repair shops have reported catalytic converters being stolen from their businesses. We are still waiting for a response from the Spokane Police Department to see whether or not they are seeing an increase of reported thefts related to catalytic converters.