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MPD warns of catalytic converter thefts

Posted at 12:38 PM, Nov 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-12 13:38:13-05

The Milwaukee Police Department says they've filed at least eight reports for stolen catalytic converters in November alone. 

The catalytic converters in vehicles are necessary to help filter everything out from the engine to prevent toxic elements from going into the environment. Inside, there are precious metals, usually platinum, that work as a filter. Thieves can get anywhere from $80 to $200 for them. 

"It's an expensive fix," Brent Bublitz said. "It's a difficult fix. They wound up damaging the car in other ways too."

Brent Bublitz had his catalytic converter stolen off his vehicle over the summer. He says it was in broad daylight and took just minutes.

"It's very hard to avoid," Bublitz said. "Very little you can do to prevent it really. A neighbor told me he saw some people under the car with a sawzall."

"This will take 15 seconds each side almost," Aaron Knepper said. "They get them here and here and out instantly. Crazy how expensive it gets to fix."

Knepper is an auto mechanic at Knepper Bros. in Bay View. He says a handful of customers come in with catalytic converter issues. 

"It could get up to a thousand dollars," Knepper said. "If they cut the oxygen sensors as well, it adds up. Those do get rather expensive to fix."

"A little helpless," Bublitz said. "You do what you can."

Bublitz was able to repair his own catalytic converter, so he saved himself a few hundred dollars. However, he says his vehicle has lingering issues and still won't pass emissions tests. 

"It definitely devalued the vehicle," Bublitz said. "If you're willing to get on your back in the cold weather, you can make money pretty easily doing this."

There are catalytic converter locks but Knepper says thieves can remove the entire thing. He suggests getting security cameras or parking the vehicle in a secure place like a garage if possible.