Brown sees bump in catalytic converter thefts

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MOUNT STERLING — Brown County Sheriff’s Department is urging vehicle owners to take precautions after seeing a recent rise in catalytic converter thefts. 

Chief Deputy Justin Oliver said it has been a problem in the tri-state area for some time.

“Adams and Pike (counties) have had a lot more,” he said.

Thieves have targeted catalytic converters nationwide for years because they contain platinum, palladium and rhodium. There is enough of the rare elements in each converter to bring as much as $1,500.

State Farm said catalytic converter theft claims increased almost 293% nationwide between July 2020 and July 2021. The insurance company alone paid out about $12 million in catalytic converter theft claims in the second half of 2020 and more than $21 million in the first half of 2021. 

Morgan County experienced a series of such thefts during the summer. At one county repair shop, about $10,000 worth of catalytic converters were stolen, some from a pile and others that were cut from vehicles. 

Brown County Sheriff’s Department also urged people to protect against vehicle thefts by locking their cars and not leaving keys inside them.

“We don’t have a lot of these in Brown County, so when we do get a few, we always try to remind people to take steps to protect their belongings,” Oliver said. 

Vehicle thefts have been a concern in neighboring Adams County. There recently were five auto thefts in one night in the county.

It also helps to park in well-lighted areas and as close to a house as possible, Oliver said. 

“We just want people to take steps to protect their belongings,” he said. “We just take these opportunities to remind them to do that.”

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