Quiet cars are sounding more like growling Harley Davidsons in Greenpoint as automobile owners report an increase in thefts of catalytic converters, a car part with valuable metals, according to the local police and neighborhood repair shops.
There have been seven reported incidents this July compared to zero in July 2019 in the 94th Precinct, according to Kathleen Fahey, the precinct’s Commanding Officer. And incident reports are up this month compared to the past three month period, she explained to Greenpointers in a statement.
“It’s getting higher,” echoed Bruce, the owner of Key Auto Center (240 Green St.), who declined to give his last name. He said that three customers have sputtered in within the past two weeks whose cars needed new catalytic converters.
Car owners are unhappy after learning that someone has stolen a car part that costs somewhere, according to Bruce, between $1500 to $3000 to replace.
“It’s super violating,” said Nicole Browner, a resident of Greenpoint who noticed that something was wrong with her Honda Element two weeks ago.
After lugging it into Key Auto Center, she learned that the thief had done $3700 worth of damage to her car, having cut off her catalytic converter, parts of her vehicle’s exhaust pipe and damaged her Honda’s water sensors.
Thieves target catalytic converters, which filter pollution from a vehicle’s engine before it leaves through the exhaust pipe, because they contain rare metals—namely palladium, rhodium and platinum, according to The Wall Street Journal.
And thefts of the car part can go in waves, says Lee Motayne, who helps out at David’s Auto Repair (302 McGuinness Blvd).
“It goes and comes,” he said, explaining that Honda Elements and Toyota Priuses are especially vulnerable.
Right now, thefts of what Motayne refers to as ‘cats’ aren’t isolated to the northern tip of Brooklyn. News outlets have reported burglaries across the country, including a recent bust in California where deputies found over 2,000 stolen converters and $300,000 in cash after issuing a search warrant.
In Greenpoint, the 94th Precinct also made a recent arrest, catching two perpetrators in the act on July 12, at 149 Meserole Ave.
While the precinct is aware of the recent increase in catalytic converter thefts, it’s difficult for officers to catch burglars in the midst of a job, since the thieves are obscured from view while underneath a car, says Fahey.
For those especially worried about their ‘cats’ getting stolen, she advises parking in view of security cameras, installing a ‘cat clamp,’ parking on well traveled and well lit streets and etching the vehicle’s identification number on the converter, which an officer at the precinct can do free of charge.
Otherwise, drivers risk turning on their cars and discovering that what was once a quiet purr is now a deafening roar.