ST. CHARLES, Mo. – St. Charles Police have made an arrest for a crime that’s been plaguing the entire St. Louis area in 2020: catalytic converter theft. Thieves have been cutting the metal converters right from under cars, trucks, and SUVs. This time, a suspect was caught red-handed with cutting tools and a stolen catalytic converter, police said.
Police say someone reported hearing a metal-on-metal sawing sound at a salvage yard near Highway 94 and 370 in St. Charles around 8:00 p.m. Sunday. There was a brief pursuit before police were able to stop the suspect near Interstate 170 and St. Charles Rock Road in St. Louis County.
“A minivan was leaving the (salvage yard) scene,” said Lt. Thomas Wilkison, St. Charles Police Department. “Officers tried to stop that minivan from leaving the property. The vehicle drove around police cars and officers followed.”
Charges were pending against the 64-year-old man from St. Peters as investigators looked into whether he could be connected to more thefts, Lt. Wilkison said. The recovered catalytic converter had been cut from a Ford Explorer.
St. Charles Police report about three dozen catalytic converter thefts this year, about three times the number from 2019. St. Louis County Police report about 200 catalytic converter thefts in 2020 after just 33 the previous year.
Investigators suspect thieves may often sell stolen catalytic converters for quick cash to support drug habits. Recyclers buy the converters for the precious metals inside, which included platinum. It can cost victims $400 to $600 or more to replace a stolen converter.
There are anti-theft devices you can attach to your converter. Thieves will likely cut right through them, according to police. Keeping your vehicle in a garage, a well-lit area, or under a high-quality surveillance camera is your best defense, police said.