GLOUCESTER, Va.— Thieves target three auto shops in Gloucester County— we’re told they stole catalytic converters. One business owner told us these converters are not cheap to replace.
News 3 spoke with experts and they said there's platinum-based material in it and thieves steal it for that and try to sell it to a junkyard, or scrap yard.
Anthony Murvine, Owner of T-M Auto Salvage said, "They'll go after certain rides, cut them, and cash them in for a quick dollar, especially around the holidays. It's going to get worst."
Gloucester Sheriff's Office reported 3 incidents where auto shops have been a target of these crimes. Murvine said his scrapyard has even been affected.
"We had two people try and sell us a stolen catalytic converter, and I told them I needed their driver's license or their state I.D. We marked down the numbers of the catalytic converters, pictures of the converters, and them standing next to the converter and they didn't agree to do it," said Murvine.
Experts said it's expensive to repair and some people can't afford to repair them because they're worth more than the car.
"For a brand new set of catalytic converters, it's anywhere between $1400 all the way up to $4,000 dollars, possibly more. Not to mention the labor, the shipping to get the converter in if the local part store doesn't have them in stock" said Murvine.
This issue doesn't stop in Gloucester, it's happening across the area. Back in October, Newport News Police partnered with Hampton Police, in an effort to prevent catalytic converter theft. Police said there are things you can do to cut the risk of falling victim. Individuals can park in well-lit areas, and install an anti-theft device.
"Cameras are a really good thing to have these days, that way you can catch the person in the act, and sometimes if it shows movement it automatically chimes your phone. You have time to call the cops for them to come down here and possibly catch the perpetrator doing it before they get away," said Murvine.
For small business owners like Murvine he said he wants to see more prevention efforts to cut down on these crimes.
"It would be nice if we had round the clock cops circulating the area to keep these perpetrators away from doing such a thing, because me and small businesses around here that are into this line of work, we work really hard for what we own to let someone else come by and take what we worked hard for," said Murvine.
Experts tell us even if someone’s car is targeted in the parking lot of a business, the shop is not responsible for the crime. Police also advise engraving your vehicle’s VIN number to the catalytic converter and to report any suspicious behavior immediately.