Thieves target dealerships, churches in thefts

MIAMI COUNTY — Thieves have been crawling under vehicles and cutting out catalytic converters around Miami County.

On Sunday, a Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to Joe Johnson Chevrolet where it was reported three catalytic converters were cut out of vehicles. The dealership was also hit in January 2021 when two catalytic converters were stolen.

Catalytic converters are designed to act as a line of defense against harmful exhaust system emissions by turning pollutants into harmless gasses, according to Cars.com. Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals, like platinum, palladium, or rhodium, that are valuable to metal dealers.

Earlier this month, Miami County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Steve Lord said he was reviewing evidence from cases to possibly link them to an arrest made in Greene County.

“These often occur as pattern crimes that can be linked to one or more suspects so we always try to establish the connection. There has definitely been an uptick in the theft of the converters lately. Most scrap yards are reluctant to take them,” Lord said.

Lord said while deputies maintain investigations, the office’s Detective Division tracks pattern crimes to link them to others in Miami County and the region.

Thieves have also targeted local church vehicles for catalytic converters including one stolen from Crossroad Church of God’s van in Piqua on March 12. New Creations Counseling Center, Tipp City, reported eight catalytic converters were stolen off vehicles since early November 2020 as reported on March 10. In December 2020, the Piqua Police Department took a report of a catalytic converter cut off an RV in the area of Commerce Drive. In November 2020, catalytic converters were cut off vehicles in the 9000 block of State Route 66. In September 2020, a catalytic converter was also reportedly cut from a Ford Escape overnight at JJs Auto Emporium located in the 4000 block of North County Road 25-A, Washington Twp.