There is a crime wave developing across the nation, and as the economy worsens, so too will the levels and severity of criminal behavior.
Catalytic converters, copper plumbing and even central air conditioning units have topped some thieves’ most-wanted lists in recent weeks as they hope to cash in on rising scrap metal prices.
Area police say the recent rash of metal thefts likely is a reflection of the sluggish economy and are warning homeowners and residents to take steps to protect their property.
In the last month, eight catalytic converters, a pollution-control device that helps reduce vehicle emissions, have been cut from six vehicles at Waikem Auto dealerships in Perry Township. It’s not the catalytic converter part, however, that is luring thieves to Waikem’s lots: It’s the metals inside them.
Catalytic converters contain metals such as palladium and rhodium.
“You can blame it on the economy. People don’t have jobs, and scrap is at a peak right now,” said Doug Waikem, co-owner of Waikem Auto Group.
Thieves are removing the catalytic converters by unbolting them or cutting them loose with a reciprocating saw. It’s a job that takes a minimum of a half hour to complete, Waikem said. The problem has become so serious Waikem has been forced to beef up security around his car lots.
“If we find these people, we will use every weapon in our arsenal to see that they are prosecuted,” Waikem said. “For us, it’s not about getting our money back, it’s about setting the right example.”
Police say the best way to avoid being victimized is to remove any opportunity for a potential thief to strike a home or business.
“If you have a house that is unoccupied. I would try to secure it as best you can, whether it’s a dead bolt lock or an alarm system,” DiLoreto said. “Check on it more often because sometimes they don’t check that for a while.”
Also, homeowners are advised to park their vehicles inside a garage and close the door and to report any suspicious activity that they observe, Pomesky said.
“The best thing is for people to be active and watch their (neighborhood),” Covert said.
In addition to metals, and especially around Christmas time, criminals will start turning to residential areas to get their fix. Anything of value is up for grabs. Recently, in a quiet suburb of Houston, the home of a friend and those of several of his neighbors were broken into by an organized band of thieves who, in broad daylight, kicked in the doors and grabbed everything of value that was easily accessible. Police suggest that the thefts took less than 2 minutes per home, and the attacks were coordinated to happen all at once. Even with alarms, there was no stopping them, as the alarms had a 30 second delay, giving them even more time to ransack. It’s a sad state of affairs when thieves are willing to risk prison time for a flat screen TV or video game system.
We will see these sorts of daytime robberies increase going forward, which means if you want to keep your assets safe, be sure to either keep a portion off-site, or well-hidden in and around your home in obscure, hard to access places. This will at least protect you (to some extent) from the smash-and-grab type of burglary described above. The last thing our readers need is for thieves to make off with the supplies they’ve spent years to acquire – especially at a time when those supplies may start coming in handy.
It’s no wonder that Americans are stocking up on weaponry and ammunition at an unprecedented pace.
Stay safe, stay vigilant.
Hat tip Mike