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Casino Parking Lots Among Vulnerable Sites for Catalytic Converter Thefts

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Posted on: April 29, 2022, 11:19h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2022, 11:19h.

Casino goers and motorists in general are increasingly surprised their catalytic converter was stolen from a car or truck when they return to a parked vehicle. The thefts are being blamed on the money thieves can get by melting down precious metals found in the converters.

The underside of a Toyota Prius with a catalytic converter in the middle
The underside of a Toyota Prius with a catalytic converter in the middle, pictured above. Increasingly, catalytic converters are getting stolen from casino parking lots and elsewhere. (Image: KPBS)

Casino parking lots or parking garages are particularly vulnerable to all kinds of thefts or other crimes. They can have weak lighting, has reported.

For instance, on Thursday two suspects were arrested at Mississippi’s Riverwalk Casino, according to Magnolia State Live, a statewide online news service.

Inside their tow truck were several catalytic converters. Police believe at least one converter was stolen from a vehicle at nearby Ameristar Casino. Tools, such as saws, were also in the truck.

A passenger, Jerry Coleman, 58, of Jackson, Miss. was apprehended in the parking lot of Riverwalk Casino. The driver, Cullen Spann, 44, also of Jackson, was apprehended at Bally’s Casino. He walked there from Riverwalk.

In another incident, three suspects were arrested for attempted catalytic converter theft at Louisiana’s Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino on April 22, according to KATC, a local TV station. The incident also took place at a casino parking lot.

Officers arrested two juveniles and an adult, Jaquan Rosette, 23. One juvenile was charged with attempted theft. The other juvenile also was charged with attempted theft, as well as possession of drugs. Rosette was charged with attempted theft and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles.

The trio had a jack and power saws and blades in their possession, the report said.

Similar thefts are taking place nationwide. In fact, the US has seen a sharp increase in catalytic converter thefts, Automotive News reported this month.

Nationally, there were 14,433 US catalytic converter thefts during 2020, according to the most recent available data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. That is about four times the amount seen in 2019, which was 3,389. In 2018, there were 1,298 converter thefts.

Las Vegas Also At Risk

Southern Nevada is among the locations where some of these thefts have taken place, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).

LVMPD data provided today (April 29) to revealed a jump in these thefts. When comparing the earlier part of this year vs. the same period in 2021 for catalytic converter thefts in the LVMPD jurisdiction, there has been close to a doubling in crimes.

  • Between Jan. 1 and April 8, there were 784 thefts of catalytic converters.
  • Between Jan. 1 and April 8, 2021, there were 425 thefts of catalytic converters.

In total, there were 1,934 thefts of converters during all of last year, the LVMPD reported.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals that can be melted down, making them very profitable,” a spokesperson for the LVMPD confirmed to “This is likely why they are targeted by thieves.”

Precious metals found in these converters often include platinum, palladium, and rhodium, according to online news reports.

AAA spokesperson Aldo Vazquez further confirmed the theft of a catalytic converter can take place relatively quickly.

If someone has access and the right equipment, it only takes a few minutes to remove a catalytic converter, which is very expensive to replace,” Vazquez told Often, a replacement will cost over $1,000, he adds.

Bill Proposed in Congress

To combat this trend, a legislative proposal was introduced in January by US Rep. Jim Baird, R-Ind.

US Rep. Jim Baird
US Rep. Jim Baird, pictured above. He has proposed legislation to curb the theft of catalytic converters. (Image: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Called the Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act, HR 6394 would force VIN numbers to be stamped onto catalytic converters of new vehicles, Automotive News said.

There would also be improved records on those who purchase catalytic converters, and the bill would classify catalytic converter thefts as criminal offenses, Automotive News reported.

Earlier this month, the National Automobile Dealers Association identified the bill as a priority, the report adds. It has yet to be voted on by Congress.


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