Thieves still swiping catalytic converters from vehicles across Hampton Roads, this time in James City County

Exchange Catalytic Converters
Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 18:38:02-05

JAMES CITY Co., Va. - It’s happening again – thieves targeting vehicles in Hampton Roads to steal catalytic converters, this time in James City County.

News 3 reporter Kelsey Jones explains how it happens and what you can do to protect yourself.

Catalytic converters are found underneath your car, but that's not stopping thieves from stealing them. Car experts say they're not cheap to replace.

James City County Police say they’ve had six incidents so far this year, the most recent ones being on February 8 and 9.

"It's alarming,” said George Berdeja.

The catalytic converters were taken out of parked cars where Berdeja lives in Longhill Grove, but also other areas such as Regency at Longhill, the Steeplechase Apartments and Carriage House Way.

“Now I gotta keep looking underneath my vehicle to see if they going to take my stuff or anything that’s cut,” he said.

Although Berdeja was not a victim of the crime, he says this has led him to stay alert.

Car experts tell us the converters have platinum-based materials in it, which attracts thieves so they can steal it and try to sell it to a junkyard or scrapyard for big bucks.

“Not only do I have my vehicle, I have two other vehicles, and if something happens that's an expensive repair.”

Car experts say replacing them can cost car owners anywhere between $1,400 to $4,000 – and possibly more for a brand-new set.

“A lot of people don’t have that in their savings,” Berdeja said.

The issue is happening across Hampton Roads. Beyond James City County, Suffolk has had 17 catalytic converter thefts, Chesapeake has seen 76 so far this year, and there’s been 58 in Portsmouth.

“I’m losing sleep because if I hear any little thing outside, I’m wondering if one of our catalytic converters are getting taken,” said Berdeja.

Police say you can do the following things to cut the risk of falling victim:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Use an alarm or camera to catch thieves
  • Install an anti-theft device
  • Report suspicious activity to police

Related: 'We work really hard for what we own to let someone take what we have': Business owner reacts to rise of catalytic converter thefts in Gloucester