Catalytic converter thefts increasing along Mississippi Coast

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WXXV) — Across the country, thieves have been stealing catalytic converters off of unattended cars and trucks and selling the parts. The trend has spread to the Mississippi Coast.

At 4:40 a.m. Monday, Gulf Hills Auto Group in Ocean Springs became the latest victim of a string of catalytic converter thefts along the Coast.

Despite the business having cameras all over the property, neither the thieves or their license plate number could be identified.

Leo Taranto, a sales associated with Gulf Hills Auto Group, describes what was seen on surveillance video during the Monday morning theft.

“We’re seeing a girl parked on the side over here and got out of the car. She was a passenger in the car. Got out. Had her little saw or whatever. Went underneath the vehicle. Cut it off fairly quick. Set it down by the gate. Went back and got in the car. They drove up to the gate 25, 30 feet away. And then she got out and I guess picked up the catalytic converter and then they drove off.”

Taranto says thieves target trucks and vehicles higher off the ground because it is easier to get underneath them. “This wasn’t their first time, for sure.”

Replacing a catalytic converter and the wires thieves cut can costs owners anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000.

The thieves on the other hand can make a good amount of money off of selling the converters for their metal like platinum and rhodium.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said, “Well it’s like anything else, thieves see that they can some money off of them, they’re going to steal it.”

Sheriff Ezell has been able to make some arrests. However, the criminals continue to travel up and down the Coast. “It’s kinda hard to predict where these folks are going to hit next because they’re so random in what they do.”

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has had discussions with legislature to help bring penalties to this particular area of crime.

Sheriff Ezell recommends residents make sure to lock their vehicles, park in their garage if they have one, and park in well-lit areas.

Categories: Crime, Featured, Jackson County, Local News, News

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