FRONTENAC, Kan. – As has been the case in Pittsburg in recent months, as well as nationally, catalytic converter thefts have increased in recent times at Frontenac. Police say they’re on the case, however, and are working with other area law enforcement agencies to catch the thieves.
“It’s rampant, people steal stuff, you know, everyone around town,” said local resident Jason Hipfl at the Frontenac city council meeting on Tuesday, where he spoke at the talks. citizen comments to ask city officials what they are doing about a recent spike. the number of thefts of catalytic converters.
Although Hipfl had other items stolen as well, he said he had had four or five catalytic converters stolen from his vehicles in recent months. Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals and can be sold for a relatively high amount of money for their ease of theft.
“It’s across the country,” Hipfl said. “I have a friend who has a parking lot in Kansas City and they don’t put the catalytic converters on until you buy the car.”
Responding to Hipfl’s concerns, Police Chief Cody Milligan said his department was aware of the problem and had just launched its first “saturation patrol” in response to the thefts on Tuesday.
“So, we’re on it,” he said. When asked what a saturation patrol was, Milligan said his department “was putting more officers on the streets trying to find these stolen items and locate these guys who were doing it.”
Catalytic converter thefts are not limited to a certain time of day or night, he said. Asked by Hipfl whether Frontenac Police would conduct saturation patrols at night as well during the day, Milligan said this was the next step in the ministry’s plan.
In Frontenac, police said, about half a dozen thefts of catalytic converters have been reported in the past three months. In Pittsburg, meanwhile, the problem appears to be even worse, with 52 flights in the first six months of 2021 compared to 12 in the last six months of 2020.
“Currently in Pittsburg, large vans, buses, super-utility trucks and recreational vehicles are the primary targets due to their high precious metal content; However, all vehicles should be considered a potential target, ”the Pittsburg Police Department said in a press release on Wednesday.
“Companies with buses, work trucks or vans are unfortunately victims of these thefts as well as recreational vehicles stored and poorly controlled. Prosecution in this type of case can be difficult due to the lack of identification of stolen converters as different from others.
To reduce the risk of catalytic converter theft, the Pittsburg Police Department recommends parking in well-lit areas, within sight of security cameras, and near the roadway in parking lots, where routine traffic can discourage theft. . Other tips include locking up your vehicle’s undercarriage to make it harder to access the catalytic converter, calibrating vehicle alarms to go off when a vibration is detected, and engraving a unique identification number on your catalytic converter and writing in case the converter is later stolen.
Kirk Darrow, owner of Darrow’s Automotive, came to the Frontenac city council meeting on Tuesday to ask questions on an unrelated issue, but also joined in the discussion about recent catalytic converter thefts and the difficulty of catch thieves.
“They come in at 4 or 5 in the morning and they have stuff on their faces,” he said. “The biggest clue if they steal catalytic converters is that they are carrying backpacks.”
City Councilor Joe Martin, meanwhile, asked Milligan if surveillance camera footage was helpful in identifying thieves.
“Whenever we run into this, guys, we’re going to check the cameras,” Milligan said. “I mean sometimes it works, but most of the time people set settings where it’s right on their property, so that’s what it is.”
Despite the challenges of catching catalytic converter thieves, however, Frontenac Police say they have worked with other local law enforcement agencies, including the Pittsburg PD and the County Sheriff’s Office. of Crawford, and they have leads on the potential suspects they are following.