Transit Divisional Response Unit detectives from the Victoria Police have charged a 40-year old man from South Australia after he allegedly stole 70 catalytic converters.
The man was charged with 212 offences including theft of a motor vehicle, recklessly exposing a police officer to risk, and other theft and drug offences after he was apprehended in an allegedly stolen MG in a car park in Springvale last Tuesday.
The alleged thief made off with parts estimated to be worth $270,000.
Investigations into the man began in April after a catalytic converter was stolen from a parked car in Noble Park, south east of Melbourne.
Police were able to link the theft to a number of other incidents across 10 suburbs including Dandenong, Springvale, Burwood, Highett, Chadstone and Brunswick.
The thefts took place between April and June 2023.
It’s alleged the same man was involved in an incident on June 16 which involved a van allegedly ramming into an unmarked police car at Dandenong North. The altercation resulted in the police officer discharging his firearm, however no one was injured in the incident.
According to Victoria Police, the Transit Divisional Response Unit is continuing its investigations and is expected to lay additional charges on the man.
A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic emissions from internal-combustion engines into less-toxic pollutants.
Inside the stainless steel outer is a honeycombed ceramic block containing the precious metals palladium, platinum and rhodium, with a chemical reaction created as exhaust gases pass through – and naturally, these precious metals can attract a handsome price from an unscrupulous buyer.
This is far from the first time a person has been charged with catalytic converter theft.
The South Australia Police has warned thefts have been occurring everywhere from residential driveways and public car parks to main roads, with “public presence not seeming to deter offenders”.
In April, the Queensland Police Service announced it had charged three people as part of a two-month long operation targeting the theft of catalytic converters across the South Eastern Region.
The Queensland Police Service says you can deter cat thefts by not only parking your car securely, but also by painting your cats with bright paint and engraving the vehicle’s registration number of VIN on the painted surface.
It also advises owners, dealers and workshops not to leave cars up on ramps or stands, which makes it even easier for thieves to access the part.