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Soaring Metal Prices Leading To Surging Vehicle Vandalism


In many areas, vehicles being vandalized – sometimes in broad daylight – are being reported more often in recent months.

Catalytic converters are frequently cut off of vehicles and sold as scrap medal, since platinum and palladium, two metals used in the devices, have doubled in price during the past couple of years. This has led to thieves out to make a quick buck cutting the devices off and taking them to less-refutable scrap metal dealers to sell.

At least one incident has taken place in Ste. Genevieve. Local law enforcement officials, though, do not believe it has developed into a major problem locally.

One local report shook residents up, however.

On the “What is REALLY Going on in Ste. Genevieve” website, Jeff Oberle reported that he caught a man apparently trying to cut the catalytic converter off of his vehicle at about 1 p.m., Jan. 31. He said what looked like a red Jeep Compass was parked in front of his driveway.

“As I started to walk towards the truck the car took off and a few seconds later a young white male took off running across my back yard,” he reported.

Oberle found that a portion of his exhaust had been cut off. He found it a few hundred feet away in a ditch, the culprit apparently realizing he hadn’t cut off what he had wanted.

In this case, he said the man was caught on video and left a cordless Sawzall behind.

Ste. Genevieve Police Chief Eric Bennett said he has not seen evidence of this becoming a widespread issue here, but that his force is keeping an eye peeled.

“We’re trying to watch parking lots,” he said.

He said he understands owners’ sense of helplessness.

“Even in broad daylight,” as a car owner, he noted, “it seems like there’s nothing you can do. It’s frustrating.”

Sheriff Gary Stolzer said he has not yet seen an influx of the problem in Ste. Genevieve County, either.

“We haven’t really had any vandalism or break-ins that is out of the ordinary,” he said. “I have seen a lot of that in St. Louis.”