NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Nazar Kozak was just making a quick stop at Target in Fort Worth.
“By the time I came out, I didn’t see anything different. When I started the van, I thought it was like a Camaro next to me,” he recalled.
The noise he soon realized was coming from him.
“It’s very loud,” he said. “And, I instantly knew it was the catalytic converter.
Someone had chopped it out from under his work van, making it unbearably loud to drive.
“Where it hurts your ears,” he said.
His dash cam captured the crime.
It shows a truck park close.
Seconds later follows the sound of a saw slicing through metal.
“You can hear the converter drop,” said Kozak.
Thefts of catalytic converters have spiked nationwide.
The Irving Police Department released video of a thief sliding under a car and cutting out a catalytic converter in less than a minute and a half to show how quickly the crimes can happen.
The Arlington Police Department reports they’ve had at least 253 cases so far this year.
In the same period last year, it saw just five.
The thefts are being fueled by a huge spike in the price of rhodium, a metal used to make the auto part, which has grown more than ten times in value within the last three years.
“It’s a lucrative business from the standpoint of, if you collect enough of them, you can make a couple hundred dollars when you go to a scrap yard or business that deals with precious metals,” said Arlington Police Deputy Chief Chris Cook.
The department says it now has two detectives assigned to handle just these thefts.
For victims, like Kozak, fixing the damage can be very expensive.
“I was shocked. I was shocked this is happening in my neighborhood,” he said.