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Catalytic converter thieves strike East Norwalk, Norwalk Hospital

(User Ballista on en.wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.)

NORWALK, Conn. — Eight catalytic converters were reported stolen off cars in Norwalk Wednesday afternoon, police said, with all the thefts occurring in active parking lots.

One of the incidents resulted in a confrontation between a woman walking toward her targeted vehicle and the perpetrators, with them attempting to strike her with their getaway car as they were fleeing the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts on East Avenue, she told police.

“She was not threatened or assaulted according to the report. She reportedly hit the hood of the car with her hand as they were parked behind her car in a fashion to get their attention and they drove off,” Chief James Walsh said in a Friday email.

Norwalk Police Public Information Officer Lt. Joseph Dinho provided this list of the thefts with reported times:

  • 12:47 p.m. – 596 Westport Ave.
  • 1:04 p.m. – 196 East Ave.
  • 1:34 p.m. – City Hall, East Avenue
  • 2:12 p.m. – 100 Westport Ave., Stew Leonards
  • 2:17 p.m. – 69 East Ave.
  • 2:43 p.m. – Norwalk High School, County Street
  • 3:09 p.m. – Norwalk Hospital, Maple Street
  • 3:27 p.m. – Westport Avenue

 

In the East Norwalk incidents, witness reports and video obtained by police indicate the thieves were traveling in a tan-colored older Lexus, with a sunroof and black-colored trunk; Connecticut license plate 404FDJ.

Dinho said the suspects wore masks.

At Norwalk Hospital, a witness told police a black BMW sedan, Connecticut license plate BB47451, arrived and parked next to another vehicle. The witness observed two occupants wearing face masks exit the BMW and then use jacks and a portable power tool to cut the catalytic converter off the adjacent vehicle.

“One of two plates was stolen from a vehicle in another jurisdiction and used on the suspect vehicle from Wednesday,” Walsh said.

Dinho said five of the thefts were from Hondas and three from Toyotas. He said police do not know where the thieves are taking the converters, which contain valuable precious metals, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.

“It’s nationwide, the FBI’s involved in the investigations,” Dinho said of the thefts.

As described in Wikipedia, catalytic converters serve as an exhaust-emission control device that converts toxic gases produced by an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants.

Thieves typically use a handheld, battery-powered reciprocating saw to cut them off a car, which can be done in as little as a minute.

According to the RepairPal website, the average cost to replace a catalytic converter is around $2,000.

Walsh said Friday:

“The rash of catalytic converter thefts is ongoing throughout the United States, Connecticut, and neighboring cities and towns. We remain diligent in patrolling retail parking areas, and other large parking areas but the thefts are occurring very quickly and furtively. The suspects use the cover of busy parking lots and quickly crawl under a car with battery-powered tools and have the converter off in seconds. We continue to collaborate with Connecticut law enforcement intelligence providers to monitor trends and suspect and vehicle information.

“We ask that if a resident sees this type of activity occurring in which they believe a catalytic converter theft is in progress immediately dial 911 and gather suspect information. For their own safety do not intervene.

“I am planning of implementing more targeted patrols in these areas where the thefts have occurred and similar parking areas.”

  • Norwalk Police anonymous tip line: 203-854-3111
  • Detective Bureau information line: 203-854-1011
  • Norwalk Police website: www.norwalkpd.com
  • Anonymous TEXT tips can be submitted by typing “NORWALKPD” into the text field, followed by the message, and sending it to TIP411 (847411)

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Updated, 12:19 p.m.: More information.

Comments

5 responses to “Catalytic converter thieves strike East Norwalk, Norwalk Hospital”

  1. Drew Todd

    Here’s a novel idea. Let’s actually put these criminals in jail for a few years and send a message. OH Wait this is the State where we passed an Anti Police Bill and Pro Criminals like NY’S Bail Reform! It’s working out so well isn’t it!? Carry On!

  2. David Muccigrosso

    @Drew – The cops still have to CATCH them first. Which they have thus far not done. Is it really all that bad that they now have to respect their civil rights while nabbing them? It’s part of the job.

  3. John Levin

    This is an exploding proerty crime observed nationwide. These CT Insider articles offer useful background:

    https://www.ctinsider.com/hartford/article/5-charged-in-CT-catalytic-converter-theft-ring-17395801.php

    https://www.ctinsider.com/news/article/East-Hartford-catalytic-converters-school-buses-17735466.php

    Lawmakers and law enforcement need to respond quickly to strengthen laws and enforcement to end this crime epidemic. Manufacturers of ICE vehicles need to be required to take measures to address this problem. Criminals respond to market incentives, and the fastest path to ending this crime is to quickly destroy the market for stolen devices. Our governor and legislature, and the US Congress, should make that a priority.

  4. Mike Veno

    If only licensed repair shops could scrap converters and making it illegal for scrap yards to buy from an individual this might help.I don’t think it’s feasible to stop theft given that the crime only takes seconds.

  5. Drew Todd

    OH! So if the police tell them to stop and they don’t and then the police have to chase them and bring them down what right’s exactly are they violating!?! Maybe the police should ask nicely like “Please Mr Criminal can you put your hands behind your back so I can arrest you?” If not then no problem you can continue your crimes and just refuse and run away. Ya know somehow trying to catch a criminal is violating their rights. And we wonder why crime is out of control?!

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