A rising crime trend is impacting dozens of drivers in Central Florida. It all has to do with a pricey car part — catalytic converters.
In Orange County, law enforcement officers responded to 67 catalytic converter thefts in April.
In April 2021, that number was 32.
Detectives at the University of Central Florida said they arrested two people who were accused of stealing parts on campus.
Data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows more than 52,000 converters were stolen in 2021.
That’s more than a 1,000% increase from 2019.
Detective Alex DeLuca led the UCF police department’s investigation into a string of catalytic converter thefts in March.
“You don’t get to come here and steal 10 catalytic converters and get away with it,” DeLuca said.
DeLuca said surveillance video shows suspects carrying a power tool and a catalytic converter in a UCF parking garage.
Detectives tracked down the pair from Texas and arrested them.
“We found 25 total catalytic converters in the investigation,” DeLuca said.
DeLuca said criminals are after the metal inside catalytic converters. Rhodium is now worth about $16,000 an ounce.
DeLuca was able to return all the stolen catalytic converters back to the victims so they could reweld them.
Thieves can steal catalytic converters in less than a minute.
If you’re a victim, it isn’t a quick and easy fix.
Repairs and replacements for catalytic converters can range from $900 to $3,000.