South Brunswick police are asking the public to be alert for an increasing number of thefts during the overnight hours, Chief Raymond Hayducka said,
“The catalytic converter problem in New Jersey is at epidemic levels," Hayducka said. "We are partnering with county and State law enforcement to track these suspects, but there are multiple crews operating throughout the state.”
Suspects have intensified their recent efforts in southern Middlesex County with 29 thefts in South Brunswick in 10 days, Hayducka said.
Catalytic converters look like a metal hot water bottle, are found in the car’s underbody and are part of its exhaust system. The ingredients of that chemical catalyst are the precious metals rhodium, palladium and platinum. Each converter contains several grams of each metal and is sold to scrapyards. The converters can be clipped off a car in minutes.
Hayducka said he is frustrated by any unscrupulous scrapyards in the tri-state area who buy stolen converters.
Captain Jeff Russo, the head of South Brunswick Police Criminal Investigations Division, said that the majority of thefts take place overnight between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and involve Hondas.
South Brunswick police have twice encountered suspects, they said. Both times the suspects escaped police at high rates of speed, causing a risk to the public, they said.
"Residents have already made a number of calls and we have created saturation patrols to increase our detection," Hayducka said.
"There is no one answer to the problem, but collectively we make a difference."
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