Another night, another theft of catalytic converters

Monitor staff
Published: 4/22/2022 4:48:03 PM
Modified: 4/22/2022 4:46:47 PM

Having catalytic converters stolen from underneath some of his company vans for at least the third time has exasperated and frustrated Kevin Boyarski, owner of New Hampshire Print and Mail, but it hasn’t entirely killed his sense of humor.

“I’ll replace them (with) after-market catalytic converters,” he said. “I might even be buying my own catalytic converters back!”

Catalytic converters are a pollution control mechanism that is part of virtually every gas-burning vehicle’s exhaust system, easily reached by crawling underneath. They contain platinum, rhodium and palladium, three metals that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per ounce, making them an obvious target for thieves.

One company called Beenveritifed, using law enforcement data and Google searches, estimates that more than 65,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the county last year, three times as many as the year before and 20 times the number of two years earlier.

Boyarski said his video footage shows somebody “wearing hoodie, riding a bicycle” without enough detail to identify them.

“They cut them off with ripsaws,” said Boyarski. “It takes a couple minutes. … By the time the cameras go off, they’re on their bicycle and off, into the woods.”

Boyarski said it will cost well over $1,500 to replace the converters on the three vans that were hit, meaning the crime was a felony. He has reported it to Concord Police Department but doesn’t expect much to come of that.

A better response, he said, is to make it harder to sell the stolen device, either to a scrap-metal dealer or auto parts seller. “There’s nothing being done on the buy side,” he said. “That’s where we should … be acting.”

A Massachusetts state representative has proposed a bill trying to do just that. Proposed earlier this month, the bill from Rep. Steven Howitt would require all businesses buying catalytic converters to get information from the seller, including their ID, and the make and model of the vehicle the part came from.  He also wants the federal government to require automakers to put the VIN, a number that uniquely identifies the vehicle, on every catalytic converter.

As for Boyarski, he’ll be parking his five delivery vehicles indoors, an extra task that’s unwelcome at a time when all businesses are strained for labor.

“At least I have the ability to bring my vehicles in every night,” he said.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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