By Associated Press - Monday, February 15, 2021

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - Soaring prices for precious metals contained in some auto components is driving a rash of thefts in coastal Georgia.

The Brunswick News reports 18 catalytic converters have been stolen from three truck rental companies in Brunswick in recent weeks.

Thieves are apparently trying to extract the palladium, rhodium and platinum from the catalytic converters, which help filter and clean up auto emissions.

Because they contain those metals, catalytic converters can be worth hundreds of dollars when sold to scrap dealers and recyclers.

The catalytic converters stolen were worth a combined $20,000, said Brunswick Police Lt. Jose Galdamez. Each one is worth about $1,100, he said.

“I guess they pay it off pretty well from what we’ve seen,” Galdamez said. “It’s a crime we’ve definitely been noticing here lately. We’re aware of it.”

Trucks are easy targets because they’re high off the ground, meaning thieves can reach the catalytic converter easily and saw it off, Galdamez said.

No surveillance cameras were pointed at the trucks, the investigator said, and scrap dealers have no way of knowing whether a catalytic converter is stolen because they have no serial numbers or other tracking devices.

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