BROUSSARD, La. (KLFY) Broussard police recovered a record number of stolen catalytic converters during a traffic stop over the weekend.
Billy Joseph of Lafayette was arrested for the thefts.
Police say when they pulled Joseph over for speeding, he took off running on foot.
Once they apprehended the suspect, investigators found five catalytic converters that appeared to have just been removed from vehicles as well as a power saw and several cutting blades.
Broussard Police Chief Vance Olivier says this isn’t just a problem in Broussard.
“It’s a big problem, and it’s affecting not only Broussard but all of the surrounding parishes and the surrounding cities throughout Lafayette,” Chief Olivier said.
He says stolen catalytic converters are becoming an epidemic.
“I think the biggest thing is it’s easy. It takes minimal effort to get off the vehicles, and then they sell them for a pretty good price,” the chief told News Ten.
Chief Olivier says catalytic converters are underneath your car, and thieves can steal them without drawing much suspicion.
“It’s not like you’re breaking into a vehicle where you break a window, and its attracting you to that vehicle. They come and just slide under the vehicle with a saw, and it takes probably 10 minutes. They can get them cut off and sell them for scrap,” he said.
He says once they’re stolen, they’re hard to track because there’s no serial or model number on them. He says typically, all they have to go on are reports.
“Some people don’t report it, and that’s kind of the problem too. Some people just think it’s not really of big importance to the police, but it really is. If you don’t report it, we don’t know about it. We could have information that we share with the other cities and parishes sheriffs offices and police departments. We might all be looking at the same suspect,” he added.
He says even if you see someone suspicious hanging out in your neighborhood, you should call the police.
“People feel like they’re bothering police sometime, but they’re really not. I’d rather take a chance on it being nothing than having somebody out there trying to steal,” Chief Olivier said. “Whether its committing a burglary in a vehicle or taking one of the catalytic converters, I’d rather us investigate it and let us determine what the person is doing.”
Chief Olivier says to prevent becoming the next victim of a stolen catalytic converter, you should stay aware of your surroundings, consider installing a security camera, and keep an outside light on.