In today’s edition of “What are people stealing these days?” we take a look at a resourceful thief who apparently sawed the catalytic converter and oxygen sensors off of a Honda CR-V that was parked on Riverside Drive and 105th street. The theft occurred last Thursday, the vehicle owner told us, and it cost him $2,700 to fix.

“Last night between 12:30 am (when we parked) and 9 am (when we moved the car) someone used a power saw to remove the catalytic convertor and oxygen sensors from our Honda CR-V while is was parked on RSD and 105th. We had to park on the Drive because streets all over the neighborhood were closed because of some film shoot or something to that effect.”

According to a Georgia television station, stealing catalytic converters is remarkably easy.

“Most vehicles you’ll find at least one catalytic converter,” said Jose Azcuy of Buckhead Mufflers. “Many vehicles have multiple converters.”

And depending on the model vehicle you have, each one can be worth upwards of $200 when taken to a recycling facility. That’s because of the precious metals inside.

“The key ingredient is rhodium or platinum,” said Azcuy. “And those precious metals break down the pollutants and carbon monoxide that most gasoline engines produce.”

Generally speaking, original or replacement converters from the auto dealer are worth more than those that are aftermarket, where typically only the minimum required materials are used.

“These guys know what they’re looking for; they know what they’re doing,” said Officer Tim Fecht of the Dunwoody Police Department. “If they have power tools, it’s pretty easy and efficient, and it probably takes them less than a minute.”

The problem is pronounced enough that someone has even created a “clamp” that can thwart catalytic converter thieves.


NEWS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. Dale says:

      Clearly the gangs of bicyclists roaming the upper west side are responsible for this provocation… it’s a declaration of war, people.

      • Drivin' Here says:

        Yes! It’s the war on cars!

        The city owes it to motorists – in addition to giving them free car storage in public spaces 24/7 – to employ armed guards to protect the property of motorists! These unsuspecting car owners who left their property outside in parking spaces provided by the city were led to believe that their property would be safe.

    2. dannyboy says:

      RSD & 105 is not a recommended parking area, for reasons just like this one.

    3. lynn says:

      Just out of curiosity, are the things being reported in the WSR also going on on the UES side of the city? It just amazes me how little I knew about the crime in this area until the last year or so.

      • Miriam says:

        To those inquiring if this happens on the East Side or only on the UWS, I have one question. When did you get plunked down in Manhattan from your farm in Kansas? :p

        Kidding aside, this goes on all over, including the other four boroughs. It goes on in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and San Francisco too, I venture to guess. But maybe not in Kansas. Just sayin’.

      • ELJ says:

        NYC publishes crime rates for all precincts. Open this link for precinct 19 and you’ll see that they have crime too, even felony assaults.

    4. Off Duty says:

      Riverside Drive above 89th Street has always been “Midnight Auto Supply” with the “five finger discount”. NYPD’s Auto-Crime knows this and has known since Abe Beame. Do they care that the cars of upper west side liberals get broken into?
      Let me hold my breath while you try to figure this one out.

    5. aaaa says:

      no car alarm?

      • whatsupduck says:

        When a car alarm goes off, we all often assume it’s someone else’s car or someone knocked into it, setting off the alarm.
        What was once a legitimate burglary prevention system has turned into part of the regular city soundtrack.

      • Christina says:

        Car Alarms all sound the same, so who’s to say someone would know it’s their car being gotten into. Doesn’t make much sense! Just another noise to contend with.

    6. Paul RL says:

      The difference is that when we UWS-ers have the audacity to complain about it, we get scolded by our own neighbors.

    7. Clara says:

      Above 86th street is pretty sketchy on Riverside once you hit the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument. The old gay cruising ground for men is also a known spot where kids organize fights and write graffiti. I was just mugged for my bag and phone on 97th street last month and cars have never been able to park over there without problems. Be safe everyone, don’t leave anything valuable in your cars after dark.

      • Paul RL says:

        Clara, sorry this happened to you. I hope you reported it to the police and Helen Rosenthal’s office as well. They need to know about every incident. No one should have to feel unsafe in our neighborhood.

    8. LD says:

      I live and park on Broadway and 104th every single day, without incident, and I know many neighbors who do, too. To say that the area above 86th street is dangerous is seriously small minded. This is the city, people, and tons of people live above 86th street and, gasp, survive every day, maybe even happily enjoying the beauty of these streets and of upper Riverside Park and Central Park!

      Things happen to people in every neighborhood. It’s sad, and I wish it didn’t, but essentially we have to be alert and aware no matter where we go and what time of day or night.

      • Cyrus says:

        It looks like the commenters are referring specifically to RSD, not the entire UWS above 86th street

    9. Anonymous says:

      Thank you, WSR, for publishing this article. I am one of the owners of the automobile that got vandalized. After reading the comments people wrote in, I just wanted to stress that the reason for asking WSR to write about this incident is to alert people about the theft of catalytic converters out from underneath higher vehicles specifically–something one is less likely to consider. I do not like parking on RSD for these reasons, but was forced to that night because of the film crew taking up multiple blocks of parking (not just the usual single block). All things do conspire. Moreover, this is not a public complaint, but a neighborly word to the wise so we can be prepared and perhaps outsmart the thieves. And when we see suspicious activity to take action by calling 311. Good luck to all!

      • dannyboy says:

        Thank you for being so community minded. I have not been able to “outsmart the thieves” on my own*, so any help is welcome.

        *6 cars stolen so far

    10. Mark says:

      I’d have to agree, once you get above 86th street on Riverside things change. I’ve known a few people to encounter problems uptown over the years and it’s just wise to be careful over there after dark. Of course it’s still a nice park, but this is New York City after all.

    11. Scott says:

      A part of me is somewhat delighted that SUV owners are being targeted here. I guess this is what you get when you block everyone else’s view.

    12. oldbroad says:

      Please, please, “off of” is not good English. That extra “of” that everyone seems to stick in all over just gets to me. “…off car” is all that’s needed.

    13. ban special privileges says:

      This is just another reason to eliminate the special parking privileges granted to movie and television filming companies.

      • Off Duty says:

        I’d rather have the film crews taking up parking spaces than those idiotic “citibike” stations. At least the film crews are only temporary in their obstructions and they do pump many millions of dollars into NYC’s economy.

    14. UWS hoodrat says:

      sawing off a catalytic? that’s so ghetto.