Monday, July 07, 2008
First it was the theft of copper wire from construction sites and ripping the plumbing out of foreclosed homes making life unnecessarily difficult for home builders with too few sales and banks with too many properties.
Then it was vanishing manhole covers and sewer grates posing grave dangers for motorists and pedestrians as the purloined iron was turned in at unquestioning scrap metal dealers, ultimately bound for one part of Asia or another.
Now comes word that rising precious metal prices for platinum and palladium have compelled thieves to remove catalytic converters from parked cars using battery-powered saws, sometimes in broad daylight, in order to get a little extra walking-around money.
Marty Boyer's carefully maintained sport utility vehicle growled more like a dragster than a 2001 Honda Passport when he turned the key.Catalytic converters are said to contain up to a quarter of an ounce of platinum. At a spot price of almost $2,000 per ounce, you can understand how the math might work out.
"The second I turned it over, and it sounded like a tank and a Harley, I knew exactly what had occurred," said Boyer, 33.
A half-dozen office colleagues had told him about that roar after their own catalytic converters were stolen, a crime that has been rising rapidly across the country from riverside parking lots in Cincinnati to highways along the California coast.
For the automobile owner, the bad news is that replacement catalytic converters can cost up to $1,000, in some cases even more.