Garfield police caught a catalytic converter thief red-handed, authorities said.
A Monroe Street resident heard a noise and found Louis G. Cadet Jr., 35, of Paterson doing something under a parked vehicle shortly before midnight Wednesday, Capt. Richard Uram said.
Cadet, who was carrying a tool bag, quickly fled as the resident approached him, he said.
Sgt. Michael Bocco and Officer Joseph Kopacz found Cadet in the area of Midland Avenue and Commerce Street moments later “covered in dirt and leaves as if he had been laying on the ground,” Uram said.
Cadet “gave a false name and denied being in the area,” the captain said.
The officers checked the car where he was first spotted and found a catalytic converter that was “freshly cut on one end and still attached to the vehicle,” Uram said.
They also found his tool bag, saw blades, a black backpack, and black gloves, he said.
Cadet, who had several outstanding warrants out of Clifton, Paterson and Passaic County, was charged with hindering, attempted burglary and theft, criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools.
He was sent to the Bergen County Jail only to be released by a judge under New Jersey’s 2017 bail reform law hours later.
There’s been an explosion of thefts of catalytic converters nationwide, authorities said.
Law enforcement agencies everywhere are dealing with stealthy crews swiping the highly-prized emissions-control devices from the underbellies of vehicles parked in private driveways on otherwise quiet streets.
Installed in almost all gasoline cars and trucks sold in the United States since 1975, catalytic converters help remove nitrogen oxide and other potentially toxic pollutants from a vehicle’s exhaust while reducing engine noise.
Their honeycomb interiors are coated with a trio of precious metals — rhodium, palladium and platinum – that have become black market prizes.
They fetch insane prices: Rhodium alone can sell for upwards of $20,000 an ounce, over 10 times more than gold.
For thieves, it could mean several hundred dollars from a chop shop or other illicit buyer who will resell it to a recycler.
For you, it could mean a replacement bill of up to $2,000.
“It’s a quick type of theft. They slide under a vehicle, go snip-snip and they’re gone,” Fairview Police Chief Martin Kahn said recently. “They don’t have to steal the whole car.”
What should you know about catalytic converters? READ MORE….
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