Michigan Deer Hunters Targeted by Catalytic Converter Thieves

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)

Deer hunters in Michigan are on the lookout after a recent string of catalytic converter thefts.

The Ionia Country Sherrif’s Office recently blasted a warning on Facebook after at least two hunters came back from a day in the woods to find their catalytic converters missing.

Sophisticated crime rings have been targeting the part all over the country for years. According to CBS News, officials in Michigan communities deal with dozens of cases each year. But lately, the problem has grown more out of control.

“Basically a lot of it is tied to the materials that are used to make up the catalytic converters. And those are quite valuable at this time,” said Capt. Randy Fewless with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office.

Ionia County Sheriff’s Office Looking For Clues After Thieves Target Deer Hunters

The parts are valuable because they contain several precious metals, including palladium, platinum, and rhodium. Thieves can sell each catalytic converter on the black market for as little as $75 or as much as $1,000.

“The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office continues to receive reports of catalytic converters stolen from vehicles parked at various locations in the county, Recently, Otisco Township Deputy Joseph Tefft took two reports of catalytic converters being cut and stolen from vehicles that were parked near rural hunting areas while the owners were out hunting for deer,” the Facebook post explains.

“We ask the public to watch for suspicious activity and to report it immediately to Ionia Central Dispatch by calling 616-527-0400 or dialing 9-1-1,” the post continues. “Anyone with information about [the] person involved with catalytic converter thefts in Ionia County is being urged to contact the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office.”

Michigan Officials Worry About an Uptick in Catalytic Converter Thefts

The part is located on the bottom of vehicles, and it’s easily accessible. Criminals can simply saw it off and run within a matter of minutes. Replacing a stolen catalytic converter can cost $500 to $2,000.

This past spring, officers in Traverse City, Michigan recorded 35 thefts over the course of a year. And because taking the part involves “very little risk” but has “a large gain,” officials worry that the crime will become more widespread.

“I think it’s going to get worse because the prices of these metals are going to only go up. And I’m hoping there will be some legislation and laws in place to puts some checks and balances and IDs on where these components are coming from,” said Wayne Moody, director of automotive service technology at Northwestern Michigan College.