The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and a dozen related trade groups are petitioning Congress to crack down on stolen catalytic converters. The emission control devices are loaded up with valuable metals and are relatively easy to steal if you’re slim enough to get beneath a parked car and happen to have a reciprocating saw handy — making them prime targets for cash strapped criminals, especially now that material prices are on the rise.
Cities across the country have reported an increase in catalytic converter theft this year. While a majority of police departments are estimating a year-over-year increase of under 40 percent, some have said their figures are substantially larger. In March, Las Vegas Police Department estimated there were 87 percent more vehicles with hacked apart exhaust pipes in 2022. Philadelphia was even higher, reporting a staggering 172 percent increase in dismantled exhaust systems.
After suspending manual background checks to encourage fresh users in April, Daimler subsidiary Car2Go found itself with a problem in Chicago — its new customers were stealing cars by the gross.
On the April 15th, the ride-sharing service notice an uptick in usage that was well above the norm. However, as the day progressed, the company found that a lot of its higher-end vehicles weren’t coming back. Instead, they were convening on Chicago’s West Side. Two days later, the Chicago Police Department announced that it had been notified by Car2Go that some of the company’s vehicles may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means and was officially on the prowl for justice.
A trio of “driving enthusiasts” briefly shut down San Francisco’s Bay Bridge on Sunday morning after they decided it was the perfect place to do donuts. The vehicle’s involved appear to be a MkIII Toyota Supra and a pair of SN-95 Mustangs. According to the California Highway Patrol, the older of the two Mustangs was nabbed while its New Edge kindred escaped with the Supra — probably to get brunch somewhere across town.
Other drivers were also stopped and issued citations for illegal modifications, presumably because the cops couldn’t prove they helped stop traffic so the lead cars could put on a smoke show.
You probably never thought you’d see the day when you could look into the eyes of your child and tell them, in your most comforting tone, “Fear not, my dear sweet offspring, the dark clouds that once covered our great nation are breaking. Tailgate thefts have declined slightly this year and we can now see light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, as unbelievable as it sounds, that time has finally come. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), reports of insured tailgate thefts have stabilized since 2014. In fact, such crimes actually decreased by around 5 percent in 2017.
Four officers from the Detroit Police Department pleaded guilty to extortion charges this week, with another two being indicted, after receiving bribes from body shops looking for stolen and abandoned vehicles obtained by the city. Federal investigators have been looking into the scheme, which involves shops collecting thousands of dollars from insurance companies for unnecessary repairs, for well over a year.
The accused officers are believed to have reported stolen or abandoned vehicles to a single towing company, rather than police dispatch. From there, the towing service would pay them a $50 to $100 “finders fee” before notifying the car’s owner that it had been stolen and sustained unspecified damages. Fortunately, the towing service always knew of a repair shop that would “waive the deductible.”
The cars were then stripped so the claims adjuster could quote the vehicle for thousands of dollars in damages.
Dozens of recalled Volkswagen diesels have vanished from the Silverdome parking lot in Pontiac, Michigan, over past last week. The stadium was once home to the Detroit Lions and monster truck rallies. Now defunct, it has been converted into a makeshift purgatory for thousands of emission-cheating VW and Audi-branded autos waiting to be fixed and resold.
Michigan authorities are working with out-of-state police to track down over 60 stolen vehicles. Roughly a dozen of the missing cars were located at an auction lot in Clarksville, Indiana, last Friday. Those recovered units have laid the groundwork for how the police are handling the investigation.