Las Vegas man deals with catalytic converter theft in the midst of financial heartache

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The ongoing outbreak of catalytic converter thefts in the Valley has not only caused much financial pain for many who cannot afford repairs, but emotional pain as well.

“Very frustrating. I was stressed. I’ve been sitting at home crying and there’s no help for me,” said Raymond Martin.

Someone stole a catalytic converter from Martin’s van at his condo complex in November. He’s still dealing with the aftermath a few months later. Martin had to take care of the insurance first.

“The drug for over 30 days. I went through four different case managers before finally reaching an agreement. I had a rental car for 30 days. It wasn’t long enough,” Martin said.

He says the insurance company wrecked his car because of the repair costs. Then he got insurance money to buy another van, but now he has mechanical problems.

“My gearbox started to slip,” said Martin.

He says the van will not pass emissions because of a problem with the oxygen sensor. He says the repair will cost around $4,000. Martin says he paid $2,500 for the van.

Precious metals in a converter clean your car’s exhaust. Thieves steal converters because some of these metals can be worth more than gold. A skilled thief can steal one in a minute or less.

Martin says he can’t afford to fix his car and worries he won’t be able to attend his doctor’s appointments or go to the grocery store if the van breaks down.

“It’s not fair to me. I am a nice person. I haven’t done anything to anyone and they are stealing my catalytic converter and I am suffering,” said Martin.

New figures from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department show a 38 percent increase in reported catalytic converter thefts from 2021 to 2022. There were 2,625 reported thefts in 2022 and 1,894 in 2021. Metro figures show that in 2018 there were only there were five reported thefts. And from 2020 to 2021 there was a big spike in thefts attributed to people looking to make a quick buck during the Covid pandemic. Metro previously told FOX5 that actual thefts could be 10 times higher than reported thefts.

People can protect their converters by having a metal plate or cage installed over them. Several shops in the valley perform the service and say they are very difficult for a thief to remove. Companies say a thief may not even try to steal a converter with a metal plate or cage installed.

Subway Police advise people to tag their converters with VIN to link a possible suspect to a converter theft. And some say a converter with an etched VIN could indicate to a metal recycler that a converter has been stolen. The department also advises victims to report all thefts, even if they don’t have insurance, to see where trends might be emerging.

In part, Martin set up a Gofundme to help pay for repairs to his van.

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