Times are tough, we're all feeling the strain of inflation and rising gas prices on our bank accounts. But, if you're struggling to make ends meet, there's one thing you should never do- and that's turn to crime.

However, across the nation, many cities have been struggling with a large number of thieves who are looking to steal a part from your car that you may not even know what it does.

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Here in West Michigan, these thieves have been causing extra chaos with the uptick in their thefts. The Kent County Sheriff's department is asking for assistance in stopping catalytic converter thieves.

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Banks Photos/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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According to Wood8, In 2021 there were 246 catalytic converter thefts in Kent County. But, the numbers are rising because we have already seen 151 reported thefts so far this year.

What is a catalytic converter?

This small piece is on your car to help it convert toxic gasses from your fuel into something a little more friendly for the air outside of your vehicle. It's a part of your car that you absolutely must have, and most cars will not run once this part is removed.

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

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This small piece of metal is not only relatively easy to remove from cars, but it's also made of expensive precious metals that can be resold for lots of money. Thieves are able to take a lot of these without using a lot of space, and scrap yards will convert them to quick cash without a lot of questions. However, the more frequent this problem becomes, the more likely people are to be busted for this practice.

How do I protect myself from thieves?

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If you're able to- park your car inside a secured garage. Any way that you can limit access to your vehicle, the better your odds are.

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Not everyone has a garage though, so if you cannot park your car somewhere out of sight, make sure you park near other cars, and in a well lit place. The more likely people are to be around your car frequently, the less likely a thief will strike.

What should I do if my car is targeted by a catalytic converter thief?

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First off - call the sheriff's department to report the thief. While they cannot immediately fix your car, they can help track any other problems in your area and hopefully help you catch whoever took your part.

Secondly- call your insurance, or mechanic. you're going to have to replace the part, and the sooner you're able to get it ordered and in cue to get it replaced, the better. With the parts shortages going on across the country, it may be more than a one day fix. Some insurance policies may offer you a rental until your car is fixed- you just have to check with your policy holder.

Keep your eyes out for any strangers you see looking under cars here in Michigan, and of course be careful yourself, never approach a would-be thief. instead- call the police and allow them to handle it for you.

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