In the wake of a recent crime wave, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is warning businesses in south Forsyth to take extra precautions protecting their vehicles.
For the third time in the past six months, catalytic converters have been stolen from several vehicles at one location, said Forsyth County Lt. Col. Gene Moss.
“We’ve had a rash of them,” Moss said. “It looks like a crime of opportunity as it relates to targeting these particular areas they’re hitting.”
All the thefts have occurred near the McFarland Road area. The first two happened at storage facilities, Moss said, and the most recent at a car dealership.
The converter, one of the most important parts for a vehicle’s emissions control system, is also expensive to replace. But Moss said whoever is behind the thefts likely is just making between $150 and $400 per part, depending on size and weight.
“They’re scraping the metal and causing a lot of damage to the vehicles,” he said.
Trans-it Transmission Inc., which specializes in Land Rovers, was the most recent target. Earlier this month, four Land Rovers were damaged as thieves removed their catalytic converters.
Authorities found two small saw blades on one of the vehicles.
After 17 years in business, Trans-it owner Bud Donnelly said he was disappointed to be a crime victim, though he wasn’t surprised by what was taken.
“Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW are going to be your high-priced converters,” he said. “It’s like the copper stuff going on. Converters have always brought good money … because of the platinum in the converter.”
For the last several years, thieves have targeted copper wire from business and home sites across the metro Atlanta area. Prized for its value, the copper often is sold to recycling businesses or salvage yards.
“[Platinum has] always been a hot commodity in Atlanta,” Donnelly said. “I just had hoped it wouldn’t get up this end of town, but it’s here.”
Moss said sawing off a converter takes about a minute.
“It doesn’t take long,” he said. “Trucks are usually what they try to get because they’re high off the pavement so they can get down and get them a little easier.”
Moss said the sheriff’s office has added the locations where the thieves struck to its business watch program, as well as adding extra patrols.
“We’re very actively investigating these,” he said. “We’ve beefed up our patrols and we’re doing some other types of strategies.”
In the meantime, Donnelly said he’s not taking any chances.
“I’m not leaving a Land Rover outside that has a converter on it. Every night, I bring it in,” he said. “I’m going to put [a camera] back there and I’m going to put in a motion light. Maybe that’ll help things out.”