Catalytic Crisis 

(WABI) – It seems to be a national trend. Now thieves are sawing their way into small fortunes around Bangor.

Many folks have reported a piece of their exhaust system was stolen, and police say these catalytic converters are being sold on the black market.

Theives cash in on these converters because they can be reduced to precious metals. The street price is running anywhere from $50 to $100.

UMaine’s public safety department says at least six vehicles have been hit on campus during the past month, and they’re usually trucks that have sat idle for awhile.

Federal law mandates all vehicles have catalytic converters to control pollution, but precious metals like platinum make up these parts. So theives are selling them to recycling centers, and possibly out of state, where they’re being melted down.

Bangor police Sargeant Chip Hodges says a dozen vehicles have also been hit around the city. He says parking lot surveillance cameras haven’t pointed toward any leads either. Some of the thefts have been in broad daylight, and theives have been getting away with it.

It takes a matter of minutes to hack off a catalytic converter, either with a hacksaw or sabersaw, and its quite noisy. Police urge passersby to call them if they hear or see this happening in parking lots. They also ask motorists to park in well-lit areas to avoid being targeted…

VIP store managers say converter sales have soared to upward of 40% this month. The manager of the Stillwater VIP says local recycling centers have been told not redeem catalytic converters.

If you have any information on the string of thefts, you’re asked to call the UMaine public safety office at 581-4040 or bangor police at 947-7384.