While the Alexander City Police Department looks to solve a rash of thefts of exhaust system parts from vans across the city, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department and Dadeville Police Department are investigating thefts of catalytic converters stolen in their districts.

“We had one reported Monday,” Dadeville police chief David Barbour said. “It was stolen sometime last week.”

Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said the county had one reported stolen as well.

“We had one (reported stolen) on Highway 50 about two weeks ago,” Abbett said.

Just last week the Alexander City Police Department took reports from four churches reporting five vehicles with the catalytic converters cut out.

Alexander City police chief Jay Turner said he finds it a bit unusual criminals are targeting the converters.

“I don’t recall in my career having a rash of them stolen,” Turner said last week. “I remember as a child taking them off a vehicle for performance but today you remove them and the vehicle’s electronics malfunction.”

According to the International Platinum Group Metals Association, the manufacturing of catalytic converters uses more than 50 percent of platinum and palladium mined. The organization says on its website one car without the converter sold in 1960 produces the same emissions of 100 cars sold in 2014. The converters help prevent harmful emissions by converting them to carbon dioxide and water. 

The precious metals could be the target of thieves but they are difficult to remove from the converters and recycling centers are watching for them.

“(Recycling centers) are on the lookout,” Turner said last week. “They use LeadsOnline to register them. We use LeadsOnline to try and locate items stolen that may have been sold.”

Wayside Baptist Church, Flint Hill Baptist Church, Hillabee Baptist Church and Jehovah Jireh Ministries all had vehicles struck by thieves.

These thefts come on the heels of another church theft as the Alexander City Police Department is still looking for a stolen van from Orr Street Baptist Church.

“They came in (last week) and said it was missing,” Turner said last week. “They said they still had both sets of keys.”

Turner said the blue 2003 Chevrolet passenger van was last seen May 7.

Abbett said all three law enforcement agencies are looking at ways to connect the crimes to see if they are related.

“We are aware of the ones the other agencies have,” Abbett said. “We are working together to see what we can come up with.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

Staff Writer

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.