Local law enforcement sees spike in catalytic converter thefts

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Law enforcement agencies across the country, state and region say more catalytic converters are being snatched by thieves.

A catalytic converter is a car part on the underside of the vehicle that helps control emissions. It contains metals like platinum that are valuable.

“We’ve got quite a few phone calls, people around the Florence area, Darlington,” Tim Brockington said. He’s the owner of T&T Southside Brake & Muffler on Pamplico Highway in Florence, where he’s lately seen more people complain of stolen catalytic converters. “It comes in spurts. I mean there’s been times in years past that you would see a little bit of this and then it kind of went away. But it seems like this year has been worse.”

The Florence Police Department says it’s seen more cases like this than usual. FPD said nearly 90 catalytic converters have been stolen in the city of Florence from Dec. 1 through Feb. 14 in 41 incidents reported to the department. Florence police say they’ve watched the numbers begin to taper recently, though.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office meanwhile says it began to see an increase in November 2020. MCSO had nine catalytic converter theft reports in 2019. In 2020, MCSO had 22 reports, 10 of those during November and December. The agency has already had seven reports filed in 2021.

Both the Marlboro and Robeson County sheriffs agreed they’ve noticed the trend in their respective counties too.

“We have found they’re targeting churches, schools, where vans and buses are sitting,” Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said.

Sheriff Wilkins said the economy and value of the metals inside may be driving the trend. The sheriff recommends a camera if you can afford it and parking in a well lit area.

“We’re treating them all very seriously, no different than breaking into a home.” Sheriff Wilkins said. “We do have detectives following great leads at this time and I can assure you some arrests will be  made shortly.”

The Florence County Sheriff’s Office also says it’s working on a series of thefts in the county. Count on News13 for updates.

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