CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating a series of crimes that you can usually peg to the economy.
Over the past couple of weeks there has been a spike in catalytic converter thefts. The converters are a key part of a car’s emission control system.
"We went out to crank up our vehicles and they were pretty loud," said Peter Zambuto, a manager with Environamics.
Last week thieves stole the converters off 13 trucks at the company, giving the business a huge headache.
"We have repairs that are ongoing and vehicles that are down. This is a service-related business. It’s very important for us to be out at our customers in a timely manner," said Zambuto.
Environamics is a mid-sized business, but for Luis Hernandez who owns an Albemarle Road body shop, the losses are much more personal.
He pointed out the three cars that had their converters stripped over the weekend. Thieves take the devices because they contain precious metals like platinum, palladium and sometimes gold.
Police say that when metal prices go up, an increase in thefts usually follows.
"So if you are charged a $1,000 job and it’s $600 to replace the converters, it’s like $400...it’s like nothing for me now," said Hernandez.
Several businesses around town have been hit over the past couple of weeks and Zambuto hopes police will catch those responsible.
"Well, we'd be pretty pleased. People like this don’t need to be around Charlotte," Zambuto said.