Converter caper: overnight thieves strike U-Haul trucks - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Converter caper: overnight thieves strike U-Haul trucks

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Employees of a U-Haul rental dealership are stunned to discover they've been robbed, and the crime has put over a dozen vehicles out of service. 

One of the most valuable parts of the vehicle was missing and the thieves didn't just stop at one.  They stole as many catalytic converters as they could before disappearing into the night.

Terry Jackson, the manager of the U-Haul on Box Road said he is disgusted that people would target his business instead of getting a job.

In the early hours of the morning, a weekend robber stole the catalytic converters from 14 moving trucks parked in the lot between close of business Sunday and the next day. 

Jackson said within minutes of coming into work, he already knew the vehicles were disabled.  A routine start-up of the trucks revealed something was wrong.

"What we did is, we came in and did our normal check-in procedures, checking the trucks, and we cranked them up and when you crank up a truck that has the catalytic converter missing,  it makes a really distinct loud sound.  Once the first truck was hit in our drop-off line, we immediately cut it off and checked the rest of the trucks and we saw that they got us for a few more," said Jackson.

Astonishingly, Jackson says none of his customers needed to reschedule their reservations.  They had all of the trucks repaired in record time.

 "We're already up and running, they're already ready to be rented again," Jackson said. "It took us about a day."

 Thieves often go after vehicle parts, and catalytic converters in particular, for their resale value at scrap yards.

 "There's platinum inside the converters and just like gold and silver have gone up recently, platinum is up too," said Mark Kamensky of E.J Knight Scrap Material.

 Kamensky says he no longer buys catalytic converters because he doesn't want to increase demand and add to the motivation of thieves who think they will make a quick buck.

"It's the paperwork factor, the licensing, the profitability, and we do not like to deal with anyone who does not have the material rightfully," said Kamensky.

Columbus police are continuing to investigate the case and have notified scrap yards throughout the region.

Even though these converters are valued at about $600 a piece, that's just what it costs U-Haul to replace them.  The thieves will probably receive considerably less than that. A business in Lannett says they offer a flat rate of only $25. 

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