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Opelousas Car Lot Targeted In Massive Catalytic Converter Theft

Blogged by @thefineauthor

A Louisiana car dealership is looking for answers after thieves stole the catalytic converter from every single vehicle on the lot.

The brazen plot took place in the early morning hours of Friday, April 8th, in Opelousas. That is when thieves broke into a closed car lot in the 1400 block of North Main Street. While authorities have not publicly identified the targeted dealership, one publication named Keith Jones Auto Sales, LLC, as the victimized business.

Opelousas City Marshal Paul Mouton believes that the thieves currently have an advantage since the police force is short-staffed.

“People know we’re short-handed, and they do crimes late at night knowing we might not catch them in the act because we’re so short-handed of people,” the marshal told a local news station.

As of now, it is unknown the exact number of cars that were targeted and how the robbers were able to pull off such a heist in one night. Just days before the Opelousas heist, 24-year-old Brice Lott was arrested for stealing catalytic converters on LSU’s campus.

Catalytic converters are extremely important components of a vehicle. They are responsible for converting toxins into less harmful byproducts, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide. Without this, cars will no longer filter and reduce harmful emissions, including hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous. Since catalytic converters contain platinum, they have become especially valuable to thieves, who can usually sell these parts for $300 apiece. The situation has become so dire across Louisiana that the state Senate advanced bills to impose harsher penalties on thieves targeting the converters. The measures would also hold metal recycling companies accountable.

These types of thefts have not only been plaguing Louisiana. Texas is also battling a rise in catalytic converters stealing. The Austin Police Department recently reported catalytic converter thefts increased 2000% from 2019 to 2020. Authorities are on high alert after a Harris County Deputy was shot and killed while approaching suspects attempting to steal his truck’s catalytic converter.

While it is possible to drive a car without a catalytic converter, it is not recommended. The engine may not perform well, and the vehicle will likely make a loud rumbling noise. In addition, removing a catalytic converter is illegal in every state, including those that do not enforce emissions rules. In fact, voluntarily removing it could result in thousands of dollars worth of fines.

While the Opelousas law enforcement will likely not recover the converters, they have increased patrolling at local dealerships in hopes of catching the thieves in the act or deterring them altogether.

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