Catalytic Converter Stolen From Glen Rock School’s Truck: Police

WYCKOFF, NJ — Another catalytic converter theft has been reported in Glen Rock, this time from a truck parked at an area school.

The Director of Security for Glen Rock Public Schools reported that a catalytic converter had been stolen from a truck belonging to the school district’s Buildings and Grounds Department, which was parked behind the Glen Rock High School over the Thanksgiving break, police said.

A review of video surveillance found that the theft occurred on Nov. 25 at 6:40 p.m.

The video captured images of two unknown individuals driving up behind the school. One subject used a battery powered saw to quickly cut and remove the catalytic converter from the vehicle, police said.

The video images were not clear enough to record a license plate number, but they were turned over to the Detective Bureau, which is currently participating in a regional investigation concerning a sudden rise in catalytic converter thefts.

The theft at the Glen Rock High School is the second reported in several days. A previous theft was reported at the Sikh Temple which also occurred on Nov. 25.

And, as the regional investigation indicates, Glen Rock isn’t the only community dealing with a rise in these thefts.

A theft was reported in Wyckoff on Sept. 21.

Wyckoff police reported that a converter was stolen from a truck parked outside an auto repair shop on Godwin Avenue. According to police, the owner of the business said that the suspects used a “battery powered saw to cut the catalytic converter from the truck.”

In January, police in Nutley, New Jersey, warned residents that catalytic converter thefts were on the rise, as the part has “high scrap value.” Patch has also reported on thefts in Glen Rock, Scotch Plains, Gloucester and Westfield.

Issues with converter theft have become such a problem that it led to the creation of the North Hudson Catalytic Converter Task Force, which made their first arrest in late July, NJ.com reported at the time.

But why are these parts so sought after by thieves looking to make a quick buck?

Experts say the platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold that make up catalytic converters are what’s driving up the thieves’ desire to target this specific car part, a part of a car’s exhaust system that turns toxic gases produced by vehicle exhausts into harmless ones like steam.

David Glawe, president of the NICB, calls catalytic converter thefts “an opportunistic crime.”

“As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices,” Glawe said in a news release.

The lure for thieves is not only a big payday but the time it takes to pull off a catalytic converter heist. A home security video shared by city officials in Berkeley, California, shows a pair of thieves stealing a catalytic converter in just three minutes.

The metals that make up the catalytic converter have consistently gone up in value over the last year-and-a-half.

The value of rhodium was about $11,000 per ounce in early 2020; but after a slight decline at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it has now shot up to about $25,000 an ounce, according to KITCO.com, a website tracking the daily value of various metals.

Palladium was at $2,336 per ounce at the end of 2020, with platinum at $1,061 per ounce, according to the NICB. Auto salvage yards will pay anywhere from $50 to $250 for a catalytic converter, with the opportunity to make at least double in profit by selling off the metals.

For victims, it’s an expensive inconvenience. Replacing a catalytic converter can cost $1,000 or more.

Read more: Catalytic Converter Thefts Soar With Price Of Precious Metals

With reporting from Tim Moran.

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