GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after thieves cut catalytic converters out of cars over the weekend.

It happened at a Visiting Physician’s Association location near the East Beltline and Leonard Street. Sheriff’s deputies say thieves cut the part out of five cars, including four company cars, that were left in the lot over the weekend. It’s unclear if the parts were taken on Saturday or Sunday.

The catalytic converter was cut from this car. (June 14, 2022)
The catalytic converter was cut from this car. (June 14, 2022)

“The metals that are contained in a catalytic converter is what drives the theft. The thieves will cut the catalytic converters off, take it to a scrap yard and try to sell those for profit,” Sgt. Eric Brunner with the sheriff’s office explained.

Brunner said this weekend’s rash of thefts is a part of an alarming uptick in catalytic converter thefts. In 2021, there were 246 catalytic converter thefts in Kent County. This year, there have already been 151.

“That increase in catalytic converter thefts we’ve seen since 2020 really just shot up,” Brunner said. “We’re talking 700% to 800% as a statistic. That’s huge.”

Jeff Shaffer with Pfeiffer Collision on Plainfield Avenue said his shop was working to repair the VPA vehicles that were damaged. He said he sees cars come in sporadically with the same problem and the repair can be expensive for some makes and models.

“Catalytic converters are to help with the emissions going out into the atmosphere. All of the metals inside are helping it burn off before they go into the atmosphere, but if they are cut off then the car would just be ridiculously loud. You would know right away,” Shaffer said. “One of the repairs, for instance, the catalytic converter alone on one of the specific models was over $4,000 for the part.”

Shaffer said based on the cars that come into his shop for service, certain vehicles seem to be more vulnerable.

“The Honda Element, the Toyota Prius, the Ford F-150 Eco Boost, some of these are really high dollar and they’re highly accessible. So those are all the ones targeted. If you have a vehicle like that, you might want to consider where you’re parking, where you’re going to be at,” Shaffer said.

Investigators say because the converters don’t have a VIN number, they can be difficult to track down once they’re stolen. Sgt. Brunner says he’s asking the community to keep an eye out for thieves.

“We need your eyes and ears. So when you see something that’s suspicious in or around vehicles, please call us,” he said.

The sheriff’s office can be reached at 616.632.6100 or you can call Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.