Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) A brand-new business is taking off in metro Detroit and its success is a double-edged sword: The Cat-Clamp keeps your valuable catalytic converter safe from thieves.
But it also means thieves are targeting your catalytic converter, the emission control device riding on a vehicle’s undercarriage. Has it come to this? Apparently it has.
“For whatever reason, we have seen a rise of these thefts in the metro Detroit area,” said Jim Dusa, CEO of Cat-Clamp in Toledo, Ohio, who visited Charlie Langton’s 1270 Talk Radio show to discuss his invention.
Dusa said it takes a thief about “15 seconds” to cut the converter away from a vehicle — and some recyclers will pay hundreds of dollars for them because they contain precious metals. It costs upwards of $300 to replace a missing converter.
The Detroit News reported Dearborn police arrested two people last month who allegedly stole more than 100 catalytic converters in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. More thieves appear to be operating in Grosse Pointe, St. Clair Shores, Dearborn Heights and Warren.
The Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Safety issued an advisory in April about the seemingly new crime.
“From what we can tell, they’re recycling them,” Dusa said, adding that auto manufacturers haven’t done anything to make them harder to snake out from a vehicle because when yours is gone they get to sell you a new one.
“If the catalytic converter is stolen, they really just generate revenue, it’s not costing them anything,” Dusa said. “It’s generating revenue for them. Business is business and why stop something if you don’t need to.”
His solution is the Cat-Clamp, a steel cage that surrounds the converter and makes it impossible to remove. How much does it cost? They start at $99 and go up to $319, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
But couldn’t scrap yards stop this crime by banning the practice of buying from thieves? “You hit it right on the head, the problem is for every one recycler who’s following the rules, there are 10 that aren’t… There’s also the black market side of it where these things don’t even see a recycler,” Dusa said.
But there is a bright spot for American drivers. “In England, they started to take measures, in fact, we’re working with Mercedes-Benz on a deal in England,” Dusa said. “In England, it’s a lot worse.”