WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An old target is new again. After a crackdown on thieves trying to sell metal at scrap yards, there was a drop in catalytic converter thefts; but some shops say not anymore.
Michael Shanak, owner of Mufflers, Brakes and More in West Palm Beach lifts up cars to look under them daily, and recently he's found many missing their catalytic converter.
"I guess the economy is really tanking and we're seeing a higher incidence," Shanak said. "Probably maybe, last month, month-and-a-half, 10 or 15 cars have come in."
Exhaust technicians say the thieves take about two minutes or even less to saw off the catalytic converter from under mainly SUVs and trucks.
"It's very fast. The guy rolls under the car, usually the accomplice will start up a (motorcycle) to mask the sound of the saw, he rolls out from the car, they're gone in two or three minutes max," he said.
When they leave, they have a part with platinum, rhodium and palladium. Platinum is being valued around $1,800 per ounce and palladium is valued around $750 per ounce.
"For a while we had a handle on it when they were clamping down on the salvage yards," Shanak said. "I really don't know how it's becoming an issue again."
Scrap yards have said to be cracking down on accepting stolen metals, but do a quick Google search and it's not hard to find listings saying they'll buy your scrap catalytic converter in South Florida.
"I'm pretty ticked off about it," Shanak said. "On one hand, you understand people have to feed their family, but I have to think the people that are doing this are not feeding their family. They're probably feeding their habit."
Whatever the reason, it leaves a victim with up to a $1,000 bill at a time where every dollar counts.
"Somebody saves money, buys a nice car, all of a sudden he's stuck with a missing car part," Shanak said. "Maybe he doesn't have $600 to lay out this month. He has his kids to have to deal with."