Catalytic converters stolen

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Parts Taken From Columbia'S Senior Van and Local Businesses, The Chronicle, Willimantic, Conn.
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Mar. 3—Catalytic converters, part of a vehicle's exhaust system, contain various valuable metals, including platinum. They are then sold to scrap metal dealers who can flip the metal for a profit.

COLUMBIA — A stream of catalytic converter burglaries is taking a toll on local commercial businesses and town senior services.

" They hit some of our dealerships, some of our commercial companies and they stole our converter off of our senior van," Columbia Town Manager Mark Walter said in Tuesday night's board of selectmen meeting.

Last week, when a group of wheelchair- bound seniors were expected to ride on the Beckish Senior Center's van to go get their COVID- 19 vaccinations, it was discovered the senior van's catalytic converter was stolen, according to Walter.

" We had to scramble to borrow a private van," Walter said this morning. "It's just wrong."

Columbia Senior Center staff worked to file an insurance claim with the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, Walter said.

"But it's going to require a new procedure on where we keep the van when it comes back. We're going to have to lock it up so it doesn't happen again because it's about a $ 3,000 repair," he explained.

The town and the additional commercial businesses hit are currently working with Connecticut State Police to track down suspects, according to Walter.

" I want people to stay vigilant. This is a new form of making quick drug

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Catalytic converters stolen

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money and it's pretty disruptive," Walter said this morning.

Catalytic converters, part of a vehicle's exhaust system, contain various valuable metals, including platinum.

They are then sold to scrap metal dealers who can flip the metal for a profit.

One of the commercial businesses burglarized last week was Biggins Auto Repair, located at 35 Route 66 East in Columbia.

Biggins Auto Repair owner Craig Biggins said two Windham Region Transit District buses locked up on his property had their catalytic converters stolen, along with several others from different vehicles on the property, including a plow truck and a customer's truck.

" Last week, Tuesday, at 3 a. m. a white van ( with black writing on the side) pulled in my yard. Three gentlemen were in it and immediately jumped out and took the catalytic converters out of two of my WRTD transit busses, which puts the community at bay now because they're short two buses," Biggins said this morning.

Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to contact Connecticut State Police at Troop K in Colchester at 860-465-5400.

Follow Lisa Massicotte on Twitter — @LmassicotteTC.