ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — There's a crime trend that's becoming more common these days.
More thieves are stealing catalytic converters to cash in on the precious metals inside.
For the city of St. Louis, St. Louis police said these are the numbers for catalytic converter thefts in the last few years:
- 2017- 13
- 2018- 65
- 2019- 72
- 2020- 29
In St. Louis County, there have been 25 reports of thefts of catalytic converters from Jan. 1 through Feb. 3. In 2019, during the same time frame, there were ten reports of thefts. In 2018, there were none, according to police statistics.
One of the latest targets? A local organization that helps people with disabilities.
In St. Louis County, LifeBridge Partnership uses its vans every day to help children and adults with disabilities.
"We're all about fostering community life for people that have developmental disabilities both intellectual and physical disabilities," CEO Karen Schuster said. "We're able to go door to pick up these clients. A lot of our clients don't have access to the community otherwise."
In three weeks, the nonprofit was hit four times. The organization even replaced the catalytic converter on one of the vans only to have it stolen again.
Pat Hamill, one of the owners of St. Louis Auto & Truck Repair, said thieves are stealing these so-called 'cats' to make a quick buck.
"[When] scrap metals go up in price, we see more catalytic converters are stolen. All kinds of precious metals and have all types of expensive metals [are] built into them. Usually, they are bought for $30 to almost $200 dollars," Hamill said.
But Hamill said it's not a shock that vans are a target.
"Bigger tires, bigger wheels, heavier suspensions they sit up higher, it's easier to get underneath," he said.
Those without a catalytic converter are left with a price tag. To get a new one, it can range from $300 to $2,000.
"It really blows the maintenance budget out of the water. It hurts financially," Schuster said.
Luckily, they have insurance but they do have a deductible. Their goal is to raise $4,000 to get their vans fixed.
"When you don' t have vans available and can't provide services, then our clients suffer. It would just mean a whole lot to take the financial strain off of us, so we can focus on our mission," Schuster said.
If you'd like to donate to LifeBridge, you can click here.
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