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New Jersey towns see uptick in catalytic converter thefts since start of the year

News 12 spoke with police departments in Lakewood, Brick and Wall Township, where combined more than 30 thefts took place – since Jan. 1.

Jim Murdoch

Feb 5, 2024, 11:01 PM

Updated 161 days ago


It is only the second month of the new year and police have already responded to dozens of catalytic converter thefts in New Jersey, especially along the Interstate 195 corridor.
News 12 spoke with police departments in Lakewood, Brick and Wall Township, where combined more than 30 thefts took place – since Jan. 1.
“I heard what appeared to be a drill or some sort of hacksaw and for a few minutes, I was startled. Then I heard it again and went to the bedroom window and I saw a sedan - white sedan - parked next to my company vehicle,” said Paul Clemente, a theft victim in the Thousand Oaks section of Howell Township. “It had to be about 30 seconds - between 30 and 45 seconds - no longer than that.”
Thieves driving a white or silver sedan with tinted windows got away with Clemente’s work Nissan NV’s catalytic converter.
“With the converters being stolen, it’s constant. We get probably at least two a week. Some weeks we get more,” said Nicole Regan.
Regan and her dad own the Howell Meineke on Route 9 – just over the Lakewood border. A few months ago, their business became a target.
“They tried to cut multiple cars, they ended up cutting two of them out and gave up after a while,” said Regan.
Lakewood Police responded to thefts at five locations across the township since Jan. 27, with more discovered as their owners become aware.
Anti-theft devices are out on the market to prevent catalytic converter thefts. Van Wickle Napa Auto Supply sells a unit available online for around $180.
“I’ve had people ask me about them. Whether or not they work, they’re still metal too, so they’ll cut through metal. It might deter them because it might be a little more difficult, but if they can cut it, they're going to cut it,” explained Regan.
“It’s always somebody else. You hear it, but then it hits you and then you have a different outlook on things,” said Clemente, minutes after the tow truck left his home with the disabled Nissan NV.
Right now the most targeted vehicles include VW Jettas, Honda Accords and CRVs, larger Ford trucks, and Nissan NVs. The best advice from the police is to keep your vehicles in your garage or a well-lit driveway if possible – and within range of security cameras.
According to the latest data available from the National Insurance Crime Bureau provided to News 12, the number of catalytic converter thefts statewide in 2023 through September, showed a decrease from the record numbers seen in 2022.

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