ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Josh Sensmeyer is the owner of BGM Automotive in Arnold. He’s been busy replacing stolen catalytic converters.
The latest victim was the owner of a Volkswagen Jetta. They left their car along the side of a highway because of a flat tire Tuesday night. They returned in the morning and discovered the bad news.
“When they showed up, the converter was cut off of it,” Sensmeyer said.
A rise in precious metal values is being blamed for an increase in catalytic converter thefts throughout the St. Louis area. Thieves sell the scrap for cash. Replacing a catalytic converter can cost car owners more than $1,000.
After two catalytic converter thefts at the First Baptist Church of Oakville, the church sent its vans to Sensmeyer’s shop to have anti-theft devices installed.
Soon after the installation was completed, surveillance video caught images of 2 would-be thieves leaving, after discovering the device was installed.
“Their game plan is to get in and out in less than a minute,” Sensmeyer said. “This makes that nearly impossible.”
He describes the device as a metal cage of sorts. It wraps around the converter and is threaded through and around the frame of the vehicle.
“Even if you were to cut the exhaust downstream and upstream from the converter, it’s still tethered to the vehicle,” Sensmeyer said.
BGM Automotive charges around $300 to $350 for the device and installation. Sensmeyer uses a device called the CatClamp and said any area mechanic should be able to install the device.
“We would have had to replace 5 different catalytic converters if we wouldn’t have gotten this device,” said Tony Pezzo, chairman of building and grounds, First Baptist Church of Oakville.
He said the investment has ended up saving his church thousands of dollars.