Monday, 26 July 2021 18:19

Rockingham funeral home victim of catalytic converter theft

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Catalytic converter of Saab 9-5 (YS3E, 2001–2005) SportCombi Catalytic converter of Saab 9-5 (YS3E, 2001–2005) SportCombi Photo by Ballista - Wikimedia Commons

ROCKINGHAM — Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Richmond County and across the country, with a local funeral home as the latest victim.


Carter Funeral Home reported to the Rockingham Police Department on July 20 the theft of two catalytic converters from two of its vehicles: a Ford Econoline and a Cadillac Brougham.

Several other thefts were reported earlier in the month.

One was reported taken off of a 2010 Ford F-250 at Champion Ford on July 17; another was removed from a 1990 Ford F-150 in the parking lot of Derby's Tailory (a box of ratchet straps was also reported stolen) on July 18; and one was reportedly cut off of a Toyota Tundra in the parking lot of Perdue Farms, causing an estimated $500 in damage to the vehicle's exhaust system on July 19.

One man is even believed to have been killed while trying to steal one.

Last week, the body of 35-year-old Danny Joe Britt Jr., of Moore County, was found underneath a Dodge Stratus off of Sandhill Game Management Road.

Investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said that it appeared Britt had been trying to take the catalytic converter off of the car when the jack collapsed and he was pinned underneath.

According to the Pilot, Britt was last seen June 15 at a convenience store in Eagle Springs. Investigators with the RCSO said he was reported missing the following day.

The sheriff’s office has taken seven reports involving 14 stolen catalytic converters recently, including several taken from the boat landing on U.S. 74, according to Chief Deputy Mark Gulledge.

“It’s a big problem,” Gulledge said, adding that some arrests have been made.

“We have seen a significant increase during the pandemic,”David Glawe, president and CEO of National Insurance Crime Bureau, said in a March press release. “It's an opportunistic crime. As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices. There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals.”

The NICB reports that thefts nearly quadrupled last year, from 652 per month in January 2020 to 2,347 by December. 

According to a May column on Nerdwallet.com, the number one target for catalytic converter theft is the Toyota Prius due to the higher amounts of rhodium, palladium and platinum.

“Removing a catalytic converter takes only minutes using some basic, readily-available, battery-operated tools from a local hardware store,” added Glawe. “And for the vehicle owner, it’s costly due to the loss of work, finding and paying for alternate transportation and then paying anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to get your vehicle fixed.”

The NICB reports that the value of those precious metals has increased, with recyclers paying up to $250 for catalytic converters.

In an effort to curb thefts, the NICB reports that 18 states — including North and South Carolina — are looking to take legislative action.

Senate Bill 99 was introduced in late February and clarifies that catalytic converter theft is a Class I felony.

Secondary metal recyclers would also be required to keep electronic records of all transactions related to purchasing regulated metals, and the bill establishes a $1,000 fine for violations.

Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, is a primary sponsor. Legislative records show the bill has been in the House Rules Committee since May 4.

(The Judiciary Subcommittee substitute is attached at the bottom of this story.)

Catalytic converters aren’t the only metal items being stolen from vehicles.

A license plate was reported stolen from a Ford Expedition at Roberts Automotive on July 19 and one was stolen from a Honda Accord at Johnny's Automotive on July 20.

McNeill Funeral Home also reported the theft of a license plate earlier in the month.