ST. LOUIS PARK (WCCO) – In the past year, there have been ten catalytic converter thefts from park-and-ride lots — eight of them in the past month. Those are the ones Metro Transit police know about. They think the number might be higher.
Last Thursday, Anne Dvorsky got off the bus and headed to her car in the St. Louis Park Park and Ride lot.
“As soon as I turned it on, it made this horribly loud noise and it started to shake,” said Dvorsky.
When Dvorsky left the, things went downhill fast.
“Couldn’t figure it out, and the noise got worse, and I took it on the highway and the check engine light popped on, another light popped on,” Dvorsky said.
Her catalytic converter had been stolen, and she didn’t know until her shop called to tell her.
“I had no idea that was even possible. At first, I was like what’s a catalytic converter?” She said.
The catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and it’s got some valuable metal inside — platinum and palladium.
Captain Mike LaVine of the Metro Transit Police says thieves can get good money for the part. He estimates, “100 to 150 bucks when it’s salvaged, does well over $1,000 damage.”
It’s going to cost $1,700 to put a new catalytic converter in Dvorskey’s SUV. Fortunately, it’s covered by her insurance.
Metro Transit has more than 100 park-and-ride lots, but they only have cameras at 25 of them. There weren’t any in the St. Louis Park lot.
“I was facing the main traffic flow, right here, there’s a light right there, and it’s a pretty busy road on Louisiana,” Dvorsky said.
Still, someone crawled under Dvorsky ‘s SUV and sawed out the converter, but nobody heard it or bothered to report it.
“We want people to report when they hear power equipment in park and ride lots, we’ll respond and check it out,” said LaVine.
Dvorsky drives a Toyota Forerunner. It’s high off the ground, which makes it an easy mark for a thief. In fact, three of the last eight reported park-and-ride thefts have been from Forerunners.
LaVine says Metro Transit police have portable pole cameras they can use to catch thieves in the act. However, he said they don’t know where to put the cameras unless victims report catalytic converter thefts.