The Crime Analysis Unit spotted an emerging crime pattern consisting of 17 catalytic converter thefts since the series began on January 14. This compares with a total of 31 in Lincoln during the entire year of 2012. Just a few years ago, I was slightly alarmed by six in eight months.
This is a good example of the value of crime analysis. I was unaware of this trend, and I imagine few if any officers knew about it. Even if you investigated one personally, you would be unlikely to know about other cases reported to other officers on other beats, other shifts, and other days off. Alerting officers to a crime series like this is very good police work.
Catalytic converters contain small amounts of precious metals, such as rhodium and platinum. As a result, they command a hefty price at scrap yards, around $100-$200. That is small potatoes, though, compared to the typical cost of a tow, repairing the damage, and replacing the converter, which runs in the range of $500 to $1,500.
These converters are being sawed off with a hacksaw, or possibly a battery-powered reciprocating saw. Either way, it takes some time and makes a little noise. Some have occurred at an indeterminate time over a period of a few days, but others were cut off in broad daylight. We could really benefit from a little more public awareness. If you happen to see a pair of feet sticking out from beneath a car in a parking lot, we'd like to get a a call.
About half of these recent thefts have occurred in the rectangle bordered by 48th and 84th, A and O Streets. In late breaking news, an arrest was made Thursday that may clear up some or all of these cases. Nonethless, with the value of these converters, this won't be the last spree, and vigilance will be good.