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A surge of catalytic converter thefts has Kansas Citians rethinking where they park

Photo Illustration-Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Catalytic converters have economic value because they contain precious metals.

Catalytic converters are built with platinum, palladium and rhodium — metals that have skyrocketed in value in recent years — making the car parts targets for theft.

Thefts of catalytic converters are up four-fold in Kansas City and the problem doesn't seem to be slowing down.

Catalytic converters are anti-pollution devices on the bottom of almost all gas-burning cars. As the value of metals contained in them increases, so do the number of thefts.

"It's almost every day, or at least a few every few days, it's a pretty regular occurrence," said Sergeant Jake Becchina of the Kansas City Police Department.

Thieves can remove a catalytic converter quickly, often in less than two minutes, so thefts can occur in broad daylight.

"We have a video of a truck driving into the parking lot, parking, a man getting out looking under, going back to get his equipment, jacking the car up ... and from driving in to driving out less than five minutes," said Elizabeth Darr, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri.

Darr had the catalytic converter stolen from her car twice. The second time, she was able to get the thieves on video but they were never found.

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