A matter of minutes. That’s how fast a bus company says it takes to have thousands of dollars in catalytic converters stolen. DATTCO and companies across the country are seeing an uptick in the thefts. A reward is being offered to catch those responsible.
“Our uptick started right after the first of the year,” said Frank Baio, DATTCO assistant vice president of safety and risk management.
Since then, DATTCO says 55 of their vehicles have had catalytic converters stolen. They say thieves hit locations in Manchester, South Windsor, Middletown, Cheshire, Durham, and Plainville.
“Immediately when you start that engine, you know that there’s a problem,” said Baio. “It’s an unrestricted flow of exhaust, so if you’ve ever stood in a racetrack and heard that type of noise, you know that there’s immediately something wrong, so that vehicle is immediately taken out of service. And we scramble to find a replacement.”
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
Baio says a vehicle with a catalytic converter removed can take several days to get back on the road because it requires finding and ordering the part, getting it installed, and doing a complete safety check on the vehicle. DATTCO says the thefts have cost them around $70,000.
“Our neighbors that are in the trucking business, food distribution, and car dealerships are also reporting the same things,” said Baio.
Catalytic converters have precious metals that make them valuable to steal and take only minutes to remove.
“A couple of our yards are fenced and gated. They literally took the same tools that they take the catalytic converters out and cut the fence open, and they went right through the fence,” said DATTCO President Donald DeVivo.
DeVivo says they’ve enhanced security measures in several ways, and he’s offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who gives information to police that leads to a conviction.
“And we’re not restricting it to our catalytic converters. If they’re stealing catalytic converters, they’re affecting the community. So we’re going to offer that reward for any conviction that the police can get for theft of a catalytic converter for a vehicle,” said DeVivo.
NBC Connecticut reached out to police but have not yet heard back. Anyone with information on the thefts should call their local police department.