ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Police say catalytic converter thieves are targeting Honda and Toyota vehicles right now.
Melonie Saunders’ Toyota Prius just got hit for the second time.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I haven’t even had the car for two days fixed.’ My heart sunk,” she said. “I cried. It’s is an instantaneous noise. Now that it’s the second time; you know it immediately.”
Saunders can start her car but cannot drive it safely or without doing more damage to the vehicle.
“Now I have to come up with more money to fix it again,” she said.
ASE Certified Master Technician Jim Henry said criminals can cut one from your car in little time at all.
“If you’ve got a Sawzall, it’ll take less than 30 seconds,” he said. “With a hacksaw, maybe a minute or two and then you’re gone.”
Henry said he isn’t giving away any secrets.
“Believe me, they know that and they probably know tricks we don’t even know yet,” he said.
The black-market demand is for the valuable metals in the catalytic converter. Henry said the one part could bring a thief 50 cents on the dollar.
“An Acura, Prius, something like, that they could probably get $600-$700; somewhere in that range,” he said.
While Saunders’ Prius was hit twice in two months, she sees no sign of other victims who park near her. Criminals targeted her car.
“I guess they figured out it was fixed pretty quickly and came back and got it again,” she said.
St. Louis Police detectives from the north and south patrol divisions are collaborating in an investigation to combat these thefts. St. Louis County Police have also reported a spike in thefts they’re handling.
Meanwhile, Saunders has set up a GoFundMe to help cover her insurance deductible.