Thefts of this valuable item are skyrocketing
A US man was crushed to death while allegedly trying to steal a catalytic convertor from underneath a vehicle in a car yard, police in Georgia said.
Officers were called on March 7 after the man, Matthew Eric Smith, 32, was found dead under a car.
"Evidence at the scene indicates that the man was killed while he was illegally removing a catalytic converter from the vehicle, and the vehicle fell on top of him," a police statement said.
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Catalytic converter theft has skyrocketed around the US in recent years, according to data, surging more than 1200 per cent since 2019.
The converters, which reduce pollution and toxic gas from a vehicle's emissions, are relatively easy to steal and contain valuable precious metals such as palladium, platinum and rhodium.
Last year, federal, state and local law enforcement carried out a "coordinated takedown" of a multimillion-dollar network of catalytic converter thieves, dealers and processors that led to 21 arrests in five states.
"Some of these precious metals are more valuable per ounce than gold and their value has been increasing in recent years," the Justice Department said at the time.
"The black market price for catalytic converters can be above US $1000 each, depending on the type of vehicle and what state it is from.
"They can be stolen in less than a minute."
Last year, according to police, 39 catalytic convertors were stolen from vehicles in Chatham County, Georgia.
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