South Bend PD looking for suspect caught on cam stealing catalytic converters

NOW: South Bend PD looking for suspect caught on cam stealing catalytic converters

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The South Bend Police Department is investigating the theft of seven catalytic converters after catching the crook in the act on surveillance video. The thefts took place two days apart earlier this month and the thief was seen using two different Ford SUV’s.

It has become one of the most common crimes and some of the business owners in this plaza say it happens within minutes. They’ll have someone step in to pick up a package and within those five minutes a thief slides under their car getting away with an expensive piece to replace.

“We’ve been hit time and time again. We’ve got surveillance cameras all around our lot. Everything is under surveillance. So if you come to our lot and steal em we will see who you are," Jaison Geren, Head of Sales at Omari's Auto Sales.

The South Bend Police Department recently caught on camera someone committing the crime at a Cintas on William Richardson drive.

At Omari’s Auto Sales they’ve been hit seven times just this year.

“Once it happens a few times you just kind of get to the point where I really say you get to the point where you get numb to it. But, it’s just another day and it’s just another day in this area and it’s just very frustrating. Very frustrating," said Geren.

The popular item consists of platinum, palladium, and rhodium. All three precious metals have a high resale value.

According to Operations Manager Rick Niedbalski, rhodium is the most valuable - currently going for $19,000 per ounce and while he says there’s not even a gram of it in each converter it does begin to add up.

“They’re not broken down to components. They’re just sold as whole units. They make their way to factories dismantlers in other towns other cities bigger places that actually grind them up and separate the metals," said Niedbalski.

Currently selling and buying converters is illegal in the state of Indiana but Niedbalski says it hasn’t stopped thieves because it’s an easy pay day with limited consequences.

“It’s not a felony so it’s just a misdemeanor so it’s just a slap on the wrist for the people that do get caught. They might have a small fine, but hey they have the money," said Niedbalski.

The South Bend Police Department is still working to locate the individual who stole from the Cintas location earlier this month - if you know anything about that individual you are encouraged to contact Michiana Crimestoppers at 574-288-STOP.

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