Greensboro, NC -- Some car vandals in Greensboro are playing a very unsafe game that is potentially dangerous to drivers.
Thieves are going under people's cars and cutting out their catalytic converters.
The converters are a part of a vehicle's exhaust system that modifies engine exhaust into less toxic substances.
In the last couple of weeks there've been 10 to 14 of these crimes in Greensboro alone.
Driving without the catalytic converter --in a worst-case scenario-- could mean starting a fire under your car or causing carbon monoxide poisoning.
On top of that, it's costly to victims of the crime.
Denise Roach is one of the latest Greensboro residents who've been hit.
Roach says she parked her car at a truck rental on West Market Street and came back to a loud banging noise when she turned on her engine.
"When you're going around 20mph, that's the loudest period of time, it just sounds like everything is going to explode," Roach explained.
According to police and an area mechanic, the catalytic converter thefts have been a problem for a while, but are picking up in numbers.
"This has always been a problem with cars because there are so much exotic metals inside these converters that they can sell," said Danny Ruggiero, owner of Danny's Tire and Automotive Center.
After looking at Roach's vehicle, he said it'd cost her $700 just to replace the part.
That is money that Roach says she was trying to save by renting a truck in the first place.
"It's been so frustrating because I'm actually moving this coming weekend and I tried to save some myself, a little bit of money, by moving the boxes myself," she said. "And now it ends up that it's going to cost me more money."
Police say they are trying to stay a step ahead of these thieves but it's hard, and they need drivers to do their part to protect themselves.
"Just try to be safe, where you're parking your car, where you're going, lighting is a crucial thing, you know, visibility. And, try to park in an area that has high traffic," said Sgt. Earnest Cuthbertson from the Greensboro Police Department.
Cuthbertson adds that if you own a business with many cars on the lot, you need to be vigilant and perhaps find a way to increase security.
Roach says part of the reason she called News 2 was to find out if the truck rental business owner is liable for her damages. But, the Greensboro police attorney tells us he does not know of any laws that hold business owners liable for third-party thefts on their properties.
And though police say businesses have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for visitors and customers, that usually doesn't mean they're "free from thieves."
Many do post signs to let customers know this, and if you're lucky some even pick up the tab for repairs as part of their customer service.
Greensboro police have already arrested three people for the recent thefts.
They tell us, they are following new information which could lead to more arrests soon.
- Before you leave your car at the repair shop find out their policy on cars left overnight.
- The Better Business Bureau also recommends you find out what kind of security they have on their property.
- You also need to know where your car will be kept.
- Find out what your insurance covers.
- If you don't have comprehensive coverage - your policy probably will not cover you in case of theft. So, talk with your insurance representative about "care custody and control" and who would be responsible for damage to your car.
WFMY News 2