Port St. Lucie police investigating several cases of catalytic converter thefts

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - On most days you'll find Jennifer Bailey's Toyota 4-Runner parked near the St. Lucie Medical Center Emergency Room because she is a nursing assistant.

But she almost found herself needing medical attention of her own after realizing a vital part of her SUV had been stolen.

"I got in and turned the ignition and heard a boom. I got so scared I almost jumped out of the car," says Bailey.

Her vehicle's catalytic converter had been stolen.

Mechanic Doug Parliamento says it can take minutes, and in some cases merely seconds, for thieves to take one.

On average, the car part is worth a few hundred bucks a pop. The device contains stainless steel, platinum and rhodium; precious metals than can earn money at scrap yards.

Port St. Lucie police have six cases they are currently working.

Investigators say all six happened within 24 hours and a mile radius of one another. There were also multiple victims at some of the same locations.

"We had one vehicle where the converter was stolen from a salon, three at the hospital, one at a bar and one at an assisted living facility," explains Port St. Lucie police spokesperson Tom Nichols.

Jennifer Bailey is driving a rent-a-car while she waits for her 4-Runner to be repaired, but at this point, she says she even has her doubts about making those repairs.

"If I get it fixed again maybe they will come back and do it again. So what am I gonna do? Take it upstairs in the hospital with me?" asked Bailey.

Port St. Lucie police are asking anyone with information to contact them.

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