A few years ago, we started seeing an increase in theft of copper wire, especially from irrigation systems around our region.

Some suspects even stole wiring from an electrical substation, knocking out power to customers.

Now, Kennewick Police report an increase in the theft of catalytic converters from cars, trucks and SUV's.  Converters have to do with the EPA and pollution mandates on exhaust systems.

Converter (KPD)

Why steal them? A search online, including scrapmetalbuyers.com, shows the average converter (depending upon foreign or domestic, newer or older models) can bring anywhere from $50 to $250 when recycled. It's due to the metals contained inside.

They contain various amounts of platinum, among other recyclable materials.

Kennewick Police have reported an arrest of a suspect, 35-year-old  Justin Greenamyer was apprehended May 24, in connection with at least two incidents where converters were stolen from vehicles; May 22 and 24 on West 2nd. and another on South Washington streets.

Usually most perps, say police, crawl underneath a vehicle, and use a saws-all to hack off the converter. Many of the thefts occur in storage areas where vehicles are parked in the open, as well as less-traveled neighborhoods.  Investigators have also learned these suspects often canvass areas, looking for likely targets.

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They urge people to keep an eye out for suspicious loitering traffic in their neighborhoods. This type of crime can be difficult to prevent because unlike locking your vehicle to prevent car prowling, these are external parts.

Kennewick and other Police departments urge people to be vigilant, and if possible, park in the garage if you're able.

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