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Pittsburgh Public Works Hit By Catalytic Converter Thefts

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Sometime in the middle of the night, thieves broke into a construction yard and stole four catalytic converters from Department of Public Works trucks. It's part of an epidemic of thefts nationwide.

The thieves broke in sometime between 2 and 6 a.m., and their brazen theft has now idled four badly needed public works trucks while drawing attention to a rash of these thefts throughout the region.

Thieves generally armed with battery-powered chain saws tend to make quick work of stealing the converters and then fencing the platinum and other precious metals inside, leaving victims to bear the cost.

At Allegheny Ford Trucks on the South Side, thieves stole seven catalytic converters back in October. Just two weeks ago, they struck again, stealing another five. General Manager Chris Sipes says they've hit dealerships throughout the region at great expense.

"It's terrible for us. It's hard on our customers and components are hard to come by," Sipes said.

The region is by no means alone. Nationwide, converter theft claims jumped by 300 percent from 2020 to 2021, topping 18,000. In the city of Pittsburgh alone, police say at least 200 have been stolen in the past 12 months, leaving owners and insurance companies on the hook.

Legislatures around the country are now considering new laws requiring multiple IDs and ownership cards before anyone can sell the components to a scrapyard or precious metal dealer, which the victims believe are now turning a blind eye.

"Any scrap company seeing a truck pull into with a half a dozen of these catalytic converters -- you think that would raise a red flag," Sipes said.

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