Chattanooga Police are warning car-owners to keep a close eye on their vehicles after nearly a dozen reports of stolen catalytic converters over the last several weeks.

The same two types of vehicles are seeming to be targeted -- Honda Elements and CRVs.

Theft victims like Karen Wilson told Eyewitness News she didn't know the catalytic converter on her Honda Element had been stolen until she tried starting her car Saturday morning.

"I turned my car on and was scared to death of the noise it made," Wilson told Eyewitness News on Monday.

It was a rude awakening, one that probably woke up her whole neighborhood, too.
"It was the loudest engine noise you could ever imagine."

Wilson said her normally-quiet car sounded more like "a souped-up motorcycle running its engine."

Of the 10 recent reports of stolen catalytic converters, Chattanooga Police Sgt. Wayne Jefferson said all the affected vehicles have been Honda Elements and CRVs. The thefts are occurring on both sides of town, Jefferson said, with multiple reports along Mountain Creek Rd. and Hwy. 58.

"It's not something that happens every day, but when it does happen, it generally happens to more than one vehicle," said Chris Perry, manager of Denton's Garage. He has helped countless people deal with stolen catalytic converters over the years.

Criminals are after precious metals, like platinum, which are located inside the parts. According to Perry, they can trade in pieces for more than $100.

But this type of theft costs the car-owner much more.

"People stealing [catalytic converters] might get a hundred bucks, but it might cost you $1,500 to repair what they've torn up."

Wilson, for example, is facing close to $2,000 in repairs.

"Because somebody decided that my car was a nice target," she said, "now I'm stuck paying a fair amount of money."

Trucks and SUVS tend to be targeted the most. Since they sit higher off the ground, their catalytic converters are easier to reach.

Police would not comment if they believe the recent rash of catalytic converter thefts are related.