The owner of a car lot on Ashley River Road found more than 20 of his cars damaged last Wednesday morning.
During the preceding night a thief or group of thieves managed to remove the catalytic converters from 22 cars on the Finance-It lot at 1542 Ashley River Road, according to a Charleston County Sheriff's Office report.
According to the report an auto jacking device was used to raise each of the cars enough for someone to crawl beneath it and remove the catalytic converter, causing approximately $150 damage to each vehicle. The theft happened between 5 p.m. Sept. 11 and 9 a.m. Sept. 12.
Officers found no sign of forced entry onto the car lot, the report stated.
Various news organizations have reported on the rise of catalytic converter thefts in recent years as the prices of the precious metals present in the converters (gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium — albeit in small amounts) has risen. Thieves can remove a converter in less than two minutes sell it for scrap for $20 - $200, according to an article at Edmunds.com. Once the metal recyclers extract the precious metals they can sell them for up to $6,000 per ounce in the case of rhodium.
Many places like the State of California have even passed laws requiring companies buying scrap metal keep extensive paper trails for all catalytic converters they buy.
South Carolina's own nonferrous metals law, which requires people selling scrap metals to get a permit from their local Sheriff's Office, also includes provisions requiring metal recyclers to pay for any catalytic converters they buy via check to ensure a paper trail connects back to the person selling the converter.