Bernardston man arrested at Lia Honda with several catalytic converters in suspicious vehicle

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A man from Bernardston was arrested at Lia Honda in Northampton after an officer found a suspicious vehicle on the lot Friday morning.

According to Northampton Police Department, Officer LaFlamme conducted a property check at Lia Honda on King Street at around 2:30 a.m. and saw a suspicious vehicle on the lot with a man laying down on the front seat. After further investigation, officers saw several catalytic converters and tools in the backseat.

Officer Hooten told 22News, 27-year-old Kyle Wilder from Bernardston was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property, possession of burglarious tools, and attaching plates. When it comes to penalties, each case is different, but fines and jail time.

“It depends. In this case the suspect was caught with burglarious tools so that’s a felony charge within itself. It depends on the amount of property recovered. In this case there were 3 different charges brought,” said Captain Vinny Caputo of the Northampton Police Department. He also said this crime has been on the rise due to the rising prices of the rare metals inside the converter.

Northampton police credit the midnight shift for making the arrest as many local police departments have been experiencing thefts of catalytic converters.

Why are so many catalytic converters being stolen?

(WTWO/WAWV) – Catalytic converters have long been a target for thieves, but a number of communities across the country have seen an uptick in thefts recently.

These catalytic converters were recovered from a storage facility. (Photo: Marin County Sheriff)

What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that’s in the exhaust system, found underneath a vehicle.

The device makes it so that carbon monoxide is not coming out of a vehicle’s tailpipe and being spread into the environment.

Why do people want to steal them?

Inside a catalytic converter are three valuable metals, platinum, rhodium and palladium, according to Steve Finzel, owner of Finzel’s Mastertech.

How are they taken and how do you know if it’s happened to you?

Catalytic converters can be cut out from underneath a vehicle. Finzel said some thieves have gotten so good at removing them, that it can be done within minutes.

“We’ve had customers that have gone out from being in a store, start the car up, don’t know what has happened,” he said.

If a person starts the car and it is extremely loud, it is likely that the cat converter was stolen.

Can this problem be fixed?

Catalytic converters can be repaired or replaced, but it can be an expensive fix. Finzel said it can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the assembly type.

Does insurance cover this?

According to J.D. Pizzola with State Farm Insurance, comprehensive insurance for your vehicle can help with necessary repairs.

What are the penalties for catalytic converter theft?

Penalties vary by state. In Indiana, for example, catalytic converter theft is a misdemeanor. However, proposed legislation would make it a felony eligible for at least six months of jail time and/or a fine up to $10,000.

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