LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Catalytic converter theft in the Las Vegas valley put the bite on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile early Friday.
The nostalgic 27-foot long wiener on wheels, in Las Vegas for a series of appearances on Super Bowl weekend, was parked in the lot of the Sonesta Suites, 4034 Paradise Road, Thursday night when thieves apparently made off with the catalytic converter, a vital part of the emissions system.
At first, the crew couldn’t get it started for a 10 a.m. Friday appearance at the Smith’s at 8525 W. Warm Springs Road. The vehicle was then towed to the Penske Truck Rental at West Hacienda Avenue and South Decatur Boulevard, where mechanics installed a “temporary” catalytic converter.
The Wienermobile crew, including Corn Dog Clara and “Chad”dar Cheese, then was able to drive to the 10 a.m. appearance.
Joseph Rodriguez, parts administrator for the Penske shop, said he was a bit surprised to see the Wienermobile when he got to work. “A hot dog truck, no way,” Rodriguez said. “Imagine like a huge hot dog in the middle of your bay. There’s all these other trucks and you got to work on this.”
Rodriguez said his workers were able to find a catalytic converter that fit, making a temporary repair. Ordering the precise device for the wheeled wiener, he said, will take one to two months to get.
“It’s a huge problem,” he said of the increasing thefts in the valley. “It’s been going on for a couple of years now. Last summer especially, it was like two to three months to get one.”
The repair can be a challenge. In addition to the major part, gaskets, sensors, and sealing the replacement can be tedious, Rodriguez said.
“There’s gaskets there that you need to reseal the converter, and then there’s sensors all along that area to regulate the heat and temperature of the system,” he said. “Those are all gone as well. They tear that apart to get to what they want.”
Sonesta Suites corporate said it is looking into the theft. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said early Friday it had not received a report of a theft involving the Wienermobile.
More than 2,600 catalytic converter thefts were reported to Metro in 2022, the department said, up from 1,894 the previous year, a 72% increase. The devices contain precious metals, including palladium and platinum, and can be turned into quick cash by thieves.
In November, the FBI in Las Vegas arrested two men on charges of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property in the resale of 71 catalytic converters for more than $16,000.