Barney Lehnerr, owner of Transitions Group, Inc., in Wichita, KS, typically uses big loading trucks to deliver furniture rentals for various clients across the region.
Right now, those trucks are sitting quietly on his lot, because the catalytic converters were stolen.
“They scaled the fence down there by the auto body shop,” he said. “They cut the locks and stole three catalytic converters.”
It’s a familiar problem he’s heard about from plenty of other people. And the price tag to replace them is high---roughly $57,000.
“Our repair guy that we use has told us there’s such demand on converters because of the thefts,” he said. “They’re probably three weeks back-ordered.”
Catalytic converter thefts have increased dramatically and this year the reports are the highest they’ve been in a decade.
Wichita police released these figures for numbers of catalytic converter thefts:
- 2016: 64 reports
- 2017: 32 reports
- 2018: 21 reports
- 2019: 191 reports
- 2020: 451 reports
“These economic times are tough for people,” said Sgt. Trevor McDonald. “I constantly have people calling me and telling me ‘I’ve lost a $1,200 catalytic converter.'"
Police say existing laws aren’t strong enough to properly arrest and prosecute these thefts. In 2018, KAKE News Investigates talked with WPD about...