LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Las Vegas and experts say thieves often sell them for their high metal value.
James Swain needed to go to the grocery store Wednesday, so he used his motorized chair to get from his apartment to his 2005 Kia Sportage EX.
“I got in the car, and it had this big rumble sound, I thought it was going to blow up,” Swain said.
The deafening noise led Swain to check under his car, where he saw a deep cut. His catalytic converter had been sawed off and stolen.
Swain turns 80 years old next month. He drives himself and his 60-year-old roommate Chris Spierer around town.
Both are veterans, and are now, unfortunately, struggling due to disabilities. They say without the use of their car, they feel stuck.
“We’re sitting here, we can’t go to the store, we can’t go to the doctor and we’re homebound again,” Swain said.
He says it will cost around $2,500 dollars replace their catalytic converter — a steep price for two men on a fixed income, as they only get a certain amount in their monthly social security checks.
“We don’t have the money to be able to go out and replace this item and it took away our transportation,” Spierer said. “We’re really in a poor situation.”
Sarah Marks, the owner of My Car Lady, a local automotive services business, says a big driving force behind catalytic converter thefts is that their metal components are very valuable.
“The thieves are stealing them, selling them to recyclers who will hope to reclaim that metal, and put it back into the market,” Marks says.
She says thieves who turn catalytic converters into these metal recyclers can get a pretty penny, based on what type of vehicle they come from.
“The range is between $150 and $550,” Marks said.
She says metal recyclers check serial numbers and IDs, but those are not foolproof.
That is mainly because they cannot be tracked back to a car owner.
But Marks says there could be a simple fix to it.
“VIN numbers would put a stop to it very quickly, that’s for sure,” she said.
Swain and Spierer are still processing how someone could do this to them.
“You just hurt people and you don’t realize how you hurt them,” Spierer said. “We’re two veterans that served our country, gave everything we had for the years we served, I can’t believe that there are people, especially in our community, that are so vicious.”
Now, they are deciding what to do next.
“Now, I got $2,500 I got to figure out somewhere to get,” Swain said.
If you would like to help email Orko Manna at Omanna@8newsnow.com