Washington Twp. police warn about rise in catalytic converter thefts

Alyana Gomez Image
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
South Jersey police warn about rise in catalytic converter thefts
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Washington Township police are now investigating four thefts over the weekend in Surrey Lake Estates and other incidents in the northern end of town.

WASHINGTON TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- Police in South Jersey are warning people about a rise in catalytic converters thefts.

We're learning some of the incidents happened at the Gloucester Premium Outlets while people were inside working or shopping.

"Someone can get one off in about a minute and 30 seconds," said Sean Winkles, manager of Meineke Turnersville.

Washington Township police are now investigating four thefts over the weekend in Surrey Lake Estates and other incidents in the northern end of town.

"They actually had a carjack and they took the jack up into a resident's driveway, jacked the car up and cut it out using battery-powered tools," said Chief Patrick Gurcsik of the Washington Township Police Department.

Neighbors say they're just hoping their car isn't next.

"If they want it they're going to get it. You could be sleeping at night and they're going to get it," said Brandon Kramer of Gloucester Township.

"You just try to do the best you can to protect your property," said Rae Polite of Sicklerville.

Chief Gurcsik says the suspect got away in an older model silver BMW 5 series with tinted windows.

He's encouraging people to park in their garage or consider investing in an anti-theft cover.

"Some shops are offering catalytic converter guards which get welded onto the muffler exhaust system and prevent the catalytic converter from being cut out," he said.

We caught up with the manager of Meineke in Turnersville who says they've replaced a lot of stolen catalytic converters lately.

"I would probably say within the last month about 20," said Winkles.

There are some simple things people can do to help police track their stolen parts or prevent a scrap metal business from buying them.

"That's the converter so you can either etch your VIN number right here or you can put your license plate number in there," said Winkles.

Police are taking proactive measures of their own.

"We're increasing patrols in these residential developments, saturating the areas with marked and unmarked cars," said Chief Gurcsik.