Police suspect a connection between two recent incidents involving someone cutting the catalytic converters off two vehicles waiting for repairs.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, Steve Myers, the general manager of Kasper Chevrolet-Buick, reported noticing someone had entered the back of the impound lot by cutting the chain link fence. He said the suspect removed the catalytic converter assembly from a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix, Norwalk Police Officer Ty Keefer wrote in his report.
The car was severely damaged from a crash and wasn't moveable. Myers told police he wasn't sure of the time frame for the theft since employees don't check the undersides of vehicles in the impound lot daily.
Myers also noticed a video camera on the back of the building facing the lot "had been pushed up to face the sky," Keefer wrote. The officer continued, saying he suspected "this was obviously done to avoid detection or identification."
Police responded to a similar breaking and entering incident Sept. 11 at Firelands Automotive, 117 Jefferson St. Owner Steve Plasman reported someone cut the exhaust pipe connected to the engine of a 1996 Jeep Cherokee waiting to be repaired. The suspect also cut the pipe after the muffler and stole the catalytic converter.
By cutting the exhaust pipe, Capt. Dave Light said the suspect was able to remove the entire exhaust system.
He called the suspect in the Kasper incident "pretty brazen."
Light noted the average person doesn't have the time or knowledge to steal catalytic converters. He said it probably took "a considerable amount of time" to cut the fence and then take the part off the Grand Prix.
"They're taking a huge chance of getting caught," Light said. "It's not your average scrap metal thief."
He suspects the perpetrator knows where to sell the platinum inside the converter.
"You can no longer sell these to scrap yards, so it must be (going on) the black market," Light said. "Someone has to have a market on these. ... They get $60 to $100 for the catalytic converters."
Plasman agreed the suspect is most likely going after the catalyst within the converters that helps clean emissions. He estimated it is worth $40 to $50 per converter as scrap material.
"It's reusable. That's why (there's) a high dollar (value) on it," added Plasman, who hasn't heard of other businesses being similarly robbed "lately."
Anyone with information about the two incidents is encouraged to call the Norwalk Police Department at (419) 668-3311.